Smith River OHV Plan Challenge
Northern California’s Smith River National Recreation Area is a wild place with rare attributes that provide habitat for wild salmon, steelhead and some of the last healthy vestiges of Port Orford Cedar, an endangered species that grows only in a narrow region along the Pacific Northwest coast. WELC has been working on travel planning on the Smith NRA since 2007, when we successfully challenged the Forest Service’s road and motorized vehicle route designation decision for this area that would have allowed motorized use in inventoried roadless areas, added miles of new roads that the agency admits cannot be maintained at expected funding levels, increased sediment delivery to critical salmon and steelhead streams, and threatened the health of some of the last stands of Port Orford Cedar.
Since then, we have represented several conservation organizations as “intervenors” in a case brought by the Blue Ribbon Coalition, an off-road vehicle enthusiast group, as well as several local counties opposed to fewer roads on public lands on the Smith River NRA. In that case, motorized advocates sued the Forest Service for closing several routes due to adverse environmental impacts. We and our clients joined the litigation on the side of the Forest Service, to successfully defend the road closures. The Forest Service subsequently revised its motorized use plan to protect the most sensitive areas in the RNA, in response to our advocacy.
Together with our clients, WELC continues to work to ensure that the unique values of the Smith watershed are preserved.