Bald eagles, prehistoric archeological sites, and yucca stalks that rival the height of trees can be found within the limestone peaks of the Robledo Mountains Wilderness Study Area, above Las Cruces, New Mexico.
In 1998, the Bureau of Land Management closed more than ten miles of trails in the heart of this wilderness because illegal off-road vehicle abuse was degrading the area's wild character and destroying key wildlife habitat. Four-wheel drive clubs sued to overturn the BLM's decision, claiming the trails should remain open under a repealed 19th century highway law known as RS 2477. Earthjustice defended the BLM's decision to close the roads and won.
The off-road interests then appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and, on April 7, 2004, the Tenth Circuit ruled against them. This ruling helps protect America's pristine lands from being crisscrossed with public highways and sets a clear precedent that other private groups with claims to public trails will not succeed in court.