Lawsuit Filed Challenging Plan to Allow ORVs on Inyo County Roads
Independence, Calif. — The Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility took action today to hold Inyo County accountable to adequately review the environmental impacts of an ill-conceived pilot project to allow off-road vehicles to use county roads. In a lawsuit filed in California Superior Court today, the two conservation organizations challenged the county’s recent approval of a procedure that would allow non-street-legal vehicles to use county roads without the environmental review required by California law.
The Inyo County Board of Supervisors’ action would allow all terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and other “greensticker” vehicles to use the same roadways as street-legal vehicles. “Greensticker” vehicles are not required to comply with emissions, noise and safety standards (e.g. lights and turn signals) required for street legal vehicles, and are not required to carry insurance. In addition to the obvious risk to human life and limb, increasing access for off-road riders, known to venture off roads and trails, also threatens the numerous sensitive plants and wildlife that call Inyo County home, and exposes residents to chronic noise and harmful particulate matter.
“Inyo County is setting up a wreck,” said Ileene Anderson, desert program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The county is home to so many threatened and endangered species that could be hurt by expanded ORV use — on both public and private lands. The county needs to figure out how to protect these resources, as well as public health, before it approves this new use of county roads.”
The plan’s poor-quality environmental review did not even attempt to identify and analyze the impacts of the countywide program, which is designed to expand off-road vehicle use in many sensitive areas and areas that have been restored for rare species.
“Inyo County has approached this proposal with blinders on,” said Karen Schambach, California director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “It’s too bad they have to be litigated into environmental review, but they are ignoring their responsibility to their own citizens, as well as to the natural resources that make Inyo County a destination for many kinds of outdoor-based recreation besides ORVs.”