U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service decides to keep protected PMV plant on the Endangered Species List, despite studies disputing its right to be on the list. Read the press release from our friends at the ASA below...
CANYON COUNTRY, CA (July 17, 2008) - After nearly three years since the American Sand Association (ASA) first petitioned the Secretary of the Interior that the Peirson’s Milk Vetch be removed from the Endangered Species List, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced today that the plant warrants continued protection and will remain on the list of endangered species.
The battle encompassing the 49,300 acres of land temporarily closed to off-highway vehicles (OHVs) at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA), which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has inarguably been one of the highest profile cases involving U.S. public lands and the differing interests between off-road enthusiasts and extreme environmental organizations. Environmentalists were able to get the plant listed under the Endangered Species Act without first conducting any scientific studies or providing data that the plant warranted protection in the first place. Off-road enthusiasts contend the plant was simply a tool used by environmental extremists to have the dunes temporarily closed, and off-roaders have spent millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours trying to prove the plant is flourishing in the dunes and does not qualify as a species that deserves federal protection.
Off-road recreationists who have been battling the environmental consortium in federal courts for several years believe the scientific data the FWS and BLM have collected over the last few years should have verified the PMV was doing well and did not require continued federal protection. The anti-access advocates and environmental extremists continue to use every avenue available to them to further their agenda to close public lands. “Their weapon of choice during the past several years at the Imperial Sand Dunes has been the Endangered Species Act,” said Jim Bramham, a member of the ASA Board of Directors. Bramham and the other Board of Directors with the ASA have chosen to work closely with the land management agencies, and support the method of gathering scientific data to make logical decisions whether public lands are closed for environmental protection or remain open for recreational access.
Many off-road enthusiasts are understandably outraged over the decision by the USFWS to keep the PMV on the Endangered Species List. They believe this is a politically-charged ruling, rather than a decision based on what is best for both the environment and the economic impact to both the private and public sectors. Off-road recreation is a hobby that has become a way of life for many generations of people living in the western United States, and losing valuable riding areas because of a blatant misuse of the Endangered Species Act is a sad situation that impacts many Americans, not just those who ride off-road vehicles.
The members of the American Sand Association urge fellow Americans, whether they’re enthusiasts of off-road vehicles or other types of outdoor recreational activities, to take a hard look at the science behind this 8-year battle. The fact remains that the Peirson’s Milk Vetch plant ranks as the most studied plant in the entire California desert! The studies conducted by Dr. Art Phillips, as well as the Bureau of Land Management, clearly conclude this plant is not deserving of a ”Threatened” status by the USFWS. In 2006, a count of 1.8 million PMV plants were found at the ISDRA. In addition, notable data suggests that less than 0.5% of the plants are affected by off-road vehicles.
What many people do not realize is that nearly 26,202 acres of land situated within the ISDRA, north of Highway 78, have already been designated as a “Wilderness” area, closed to OHV use. This area, coupled with the current administration closures, make it nearly impossible for OHV activity to damage or threaten the PMV plant, which is shown to be thriving in the barren desert environment.
The American Sand Association stands fast to its resolution that the PMV is not deserving of a Federally protected status. The plant has been the subject of many extensive and costly studies, and all the reports draw the same conclusion: The plant is very hardy but its numbers fluctuate according to rainfall; and there is no evidence that OHV use negatively affects the continued viability of the PMV. The ASA urges its members and other OHV enthusiasts to continue honoring the “temporary” closures that are currently set in place.
About the American Sand Association
The American Sand Association is a non-profit organization of approximately 33,000 members dedicated to preserving the use of public lands for sand sport enthusiasts’ use, improving OHV safety and promoting responsible land use. Some local sand sport areas include the Imperial Sand Dunes, Oceano Dunes (Pismo Beach) and Dumont Dunes in California, Sand Mountain in Nevada and Hotwell Dunes in Arizona. The ASA is an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff. We rely on the financial support of sand sport enthusiasts and small businesses. Most of the members are family-oriented, have a rich family history going back for generations enjoying the sand sport; and most have a significant financial investment in their equipment, gear and campers. Additional information can be found on our web site at www.americansandassociation.org.