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OHA prevails again in lawsuit for Ochoco elk

By Karl Findling, OHA Lands Director

OHA is pleased to announce the conclusion to the Summit OHV proposal, with the federal government dropping its appeal process in June. OHA filed a lawsuit challenging the Record of Decision by the U.S. Forest Service to build an additional 137 miles of off highway vehicle (OHV) trails on the Ochoco National Forest in critical elk habitat.

“The Bend and Redmond chapters were initially concerned with illegal OHV use and encroachment into critical elk calving areas,” stated Jim Akenson, OHA Senior Conservation Director. “This is a big win for wildlife and habitat protections going forward.”

OHA’s State Board, staff, and central Oregon OHA chapters had opposed the Ochoco Summit Trail Project since it was proposed in 2009. OHA and other groups, including ODFW, had been fully engaged in the public process to oppose adding 137 miles of OHV trails and roads in critically important elk habitat, citing the Forest Service’s own research in the Starkey Experimental Forest.

OHA filed suit, and OHA’s Bend Chapter and RMEF contributed to legal fees.

In the latest action, the Federal Government dropped its appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, ending the case and stopping the project.

As a prevailing party, OHA will seek to recover legal expenses.

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