A conservation group sued the U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday over the agency’s decision to allow off-highway vehicles in sensitive forest lands along the Nevada-California border where federally protected bighorn sheep and Lahontan cutthroat trout live.
“We cannot allow the Forest Service to ignore its responsibilities to protect rare and imperiled species and their habitats,” Rob Mrowka, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Nevada-based ecologist, said in a press release. “The streams, meadows, lambing and nesting areas, and other places without roads are critical for the conservation of these species.”
In March, the Forest Service’s Bridgeport Ranger District designated 220 miles of motorized routes. The routes include 11 miles that cross sage grouse nesting areas and 79 miles along streams.
Mrowka said off-road vehicles can damage wildlife habitat, disrupt the behavior of sensitive species and degrade water quality for fish and frogs.
In addition to bighorn sheep and cutthroat trout, other species such as pine marten, a member of the weasel family, will be affected by the agency’s decision, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Calif.