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Agency agrees to limit off-road vehicle space to settle coalitions’ lawsuit

The Associated Press
Tuesday October 24, 2000

SAN DIEGO — A coalition of environmental groups have settled a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management after the agency agreed to limit the amount of land that could be used by off-road vehicle owners in an Imperial County wilderness area. 

The Center for Biological Diversity, along with the California/Nevada Desert Sierra Club and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, settled their lawsuit Friday when the bureau agreed to restrict off-road vehicles in 48,000 additional acres of the Algodones Dunes. 

The settlement went into effect  

Friday afternoon. The Dunes are located in Imperial County, near Interstate 8, about 125 southeast of San Diego. The agreement brings the total of protected acreage in the Algodones Dunes area to about 80,000 acres.  

The dunes cover about 150,000 acres. 

About 70,000 acres of the dunes will remain open to off-road vehicles. 

The groups sued the agency to force officials to deem more acres of the dunes area closed to off-roaders, which environmentalists complain trample critical habitat. 

Among the endangered species in the area is Peirson’s milkvetch, a silvery-colored perennial plant. According to the groups, the Algodones Dunes is the only area in the United States where the plant grows. 

Environmentalists are still at odds with the bureau over protection of other endangered species in the California Desert Conservation Area, which covers about 400 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border to Death Valley and the Sierra Nevada foothills.