President Nixon recognized the controversy surrounding off-road vehicle (ORV) use on public lands when he signed Executive Order 11,644 in 1972. The Executive Order set out minimization criteria that bound federal land management agencies’ ORV area and trail designations. Forty years later, agencies are still struggling to implement the minimization criteria. Recent court opinions have struck down implementation attempts by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Forest Service. This note argues that agencies require additional guidance for ORV management, particularly in light of case law that sets a floor for achieving minimization. After examining how the mandate of “minimization” has been applied in other environmental law contexts, this note recommends key components of that much-needed guidance. Overall, guidance should reflect the agencies’ obligations to: (1) apply and implement the criteria to locate areas and trails to minimize impacts; (2) gather and consider site-specific information on potential ORV routes; (3) analyze route-specific and landscapescale effects; (4) involve the public early in the process; (5) incorporate the best available science; and (6) consider agency monitoring and enforcement resources.
Louisa S. Eberle,
Minimization Criteria for Off-Road Vehicle Use,
Mich. J. Envtl. & Admin. L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjeal/vol5/iss1/5