Off-Road Vehicle Settlement Paves the Way to Restore Wrangell-St. Elias

May 20, 2007
Lisa Oakley

Furthering the effort to protect and recover portions of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve from the damaging effects of recreational off-road vehicle (ORV) use, Trustees for Alaska finalized a settlement with the National Park Service on litigation challenging illegal ORV use on nine trails within the Park. The settlement requires the Park Service to prepare an environmental impact statement evaluating the impacts of recreational ORV use on park resources. Should the environmental impact statement determine that recreational riding can continue, then the settlement requires the Park Service to make a written finding on the compatibility of ORV use with the purposes for which Wrangell-St. Elias Park & Preserve was established.

As of 1998, the Park Service estimated that nearly 600 miles of ORV trails affected approximately 2 million acres of land in Wrangell-St. Elias. The settlement significantly restricts the amount of riding permitted on the three most damaged trails while the six others remain open pending completion of the environmental impact statement within four years. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association, Alaska Center for the Environment, and The Wilderness Society, has succeeded in prompting the National Park Service to follow its own rules for managing recreational, non-subsistence all-terrain vehicle use in the park. Trustees for Alaska will make sure that the Park Service conducts an environmental impact statement that adequately acknowledges their responsibility to protect the parks from destructive recreational riding.

Clients: National Parks Conservation Association, Alaska Center for the Environment, and The Wilderness Society

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