A TRAIL CLOSED IS NEVER RE­OPENED? BRC LE­GAL OPENS TRAIL 38.

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BOISE, ID (Fe­bru­ary 2, 2015)- When the snow clears in the com­ing spring, Wy­oming rid­ers will again en­joy the op­por­tu­nity to tra­verse Trail 38 on the Bighorn Na­tional For­est, thanks to the Inyan Kara Rid­ers-Blue Rib­bon Coali­tion (BRC) le­gal ef­fort. Trail 38, a 4.5 mile sec­tion of rare Wy­oming sin­gle-track, was closed in the Spring of 2012 through a Tongue Dis­trict Ranger let­ter pur­port­ing to change the Trail’s des­ig­na­tion to non-mo­tor­ized. Fol­low­ing un­suc­cess­ful out­reach and cor­re­spon­dence to the For­est Ser­vice, lo­cal rid­ers con­tacted the BRC to eval­u­ate their op­tions. On Au­gust 6, 2014, the BRC Le­gal Team filed a law­suit in the U.S. Dis­trict of Wy­oming, al­leg­ing that the non-mo­tor­ized des­ig­na­tion of Trail 38 vi­o­lated fed­eral laws and reg­u­la­tions. Rather than an­swer the com­plaint, the For­est Ser­vice with­drew its des­ig­na­tion, and Trail 38 re­verted to its ear­lier mo­tor­ized sta­tus.

“We are pleas­antly sur­prised by the For­est Ser­vice’s quick and de­ci­sive choice to avoid pro­tracted lit­i­ga­tion,” said J.R. Rig­gins, a named plain­tiff in the suit and leader of the Wy­oming rider’s ef­fort. “Cyn­ics some­times think that lit­i­ga­tion is an ex­pen­sive ex­er­cise in sym­bolic fu­til­ity, but our abil­ity to re­sume sum­mer trips on Trail 38 serves as a tan­gi­ble re­minder that a well-de­signed court­room ef­fort can make a dif­fer­ence on the ground,” Rig­gins ob­served.

Since 1997, the BRC Le­gal Pro­gram has ap­peared across the na­tion to fight recre­ation clo­sures and de­fend pro­trail agency de­ci­sions. Many cases in­volve de­fense against at­tacks from anti-ac­cess groups. Some, like Trail 38, are ef­forts to go “on of­fense” and es­tab­lish or re­store ac­cess op­por­tu­ni­ties which has oc­curred at least 14 times. The BRC Le­gal Pro­gram to­tal in­vest­ment in ac­cess is at 1.7 mil­lion dol­lars spent and count­ing.

The plain­tiffs in the Trail 38 ef­fort were rep­re­sented by Paul Tur­cke of Boise, Idaho, who has been lead coun­sel for BRC since the Le­gal Pro­gram’s in­cep­tion, and lo­cal coun­sel Har­riet Hage­man and Sta­cia Berry of Hage­man Law in Cheyenne. Th­ese lawyers pre­vi­ously joined forces to rep­re­sent recre­ation in­ter­ests in sup­port of the State of Wy­oming’s chal­lenge to the 2001 Clin­ton-Gore Road­less Rule. The par­ties to the suit have reached an ini­tial agree­ment on a set­tle­ment, which is un­der­go­ing fi­nal ap­proval by fed­eral gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. The Blue Rib­bon Coali­tion (BRC) is a na­tional non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that cham­pi­ons re­spon­si­ble recre­ation and en­cour­ages a strong con­ser­va­tion ethic and in­di­vid­ual ste­ward­ship, while pro­vid­ing lead­er­ship in ef­forts to keep out­door recre­ation alive and well -- all sports; all trails. With mem­bers in all 50 states, BRC is fo­cused on build­ing en­thu­si­ast in­volve­ment with or­ga­ni­za­tional ef­forts through mem­ber­ship, out­reach, ed­u­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion among recre­ation­ists. 1-800-BLUERIB - www.BlueRib­bonCoali­tion.Org

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