Settlement: opening roads to motorized use requires NEPA (take 2)

It’s the Pike-San Isabel this time.  The issue appears to be “unauthorized and unanalyzed” routes.  It’s not clear whether those are two different things, but I think the point is that when a Motor Vehicle Use Map allows motorized use on user-created (“unauthorized?”) roads, the map becomes an authorization that triggers NEPA, ESA, NFMA consistency and travel plan “minimization” requirements.  The MVUM is not just displaying an open road system that was authorized in a previous travel planning and NEPA process (as was envisioned by the Travel Management Rule).

Thanks to WildEarth Guardians, we can look at the settlement agreement.  In it the Forest Service agrees to conduct travel planning using the proper procedures (I’ll bet that was a hard thing for them to accept …), agrees to some specific aspects of the process, and will undertake some interim protection measures in specified areas.  That’s a pretty standard formula, I think – do/re-do the process, and meanwhile don’t take some actions (in this case that means interim closing and “unopening” some roads).

What I need someone to explain to me is this.  Some motorized user groups intervened as defendants, but their signature is not on the settlement agreement.  I thought intervention allowed the parties to contest a settlement in some way.  Can we assume that they didn’t in this case?

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