News Rights

Off-Roaders Lose to Sage Grouse

Federal judge backs Forest Service decision

A federal judge upheld the U.S. Forest Service’s authority to keep a 250-mile motorcycle race out of the habitat of the bi-state sage grouse in Nevada, ruling against the Sierra Trail Dogs Motorcycle and Recreational Club.

The club, which had staged the Mystery 250 dirt bike race in June for 25 years, claimed in a 2018 lawsuit that the Forest Service bypassed the environmental review process.

The club said that between the draft stage and final adoption of guidelines for off-road travel, the Forest Service nearly doubled the size of buffer zones and extended the season when motorized traffic is banned.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said in her ruling the standard the agency adopted was a minor variation of the one included in the final environmental review and no supplemental review was needed.

The Forest Service victory forced the club to move its race from June to July, when, organizers say, hotter, drier conditions increase the fire risk.

The bi-state grouse found only in Nevada and California is related to, but separate from, the greater sage grouse, which lives in a dozen Western states.