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Executive Orders on Pesticides, Off-Road Vehicles in This Month's Issues

November 1973

Citation: ELR 10171

The Statutory and Administrative Materials section of this month's ELR includes two executive orders issued on February 8, 1972, restricting the use of poisonous chemicals for predator control on federal lands and limiting the areas on public lands in which off-road vehicles, such as trail motorcycles and snowmobiles, may be used. E.O. No. 11643 directs the heads of all federal agencies to prohibit the use on federal lands of any chemical toxicant for the purpose of poisoning predatory mammals or birds. Toxicants are also forbidden where their use against mammals, birds, or reptiles may cause secondary harm to humans, animals, or birds ingesting or otherwise coming in contact with the poisoned animal. However, an agency head may grant exemptions from the ban if, after consulting with the Secretaries of Interior, HEW, and Agriculture and the Administrator of EPA, he makes a written finding that an emergency exists that cannot be dealt with by other means. The finding must also state that such use is essential to the protection of human health or safety, the preservation of one or more wildlife species threatened with extinction, or the prevention of substantial irretrievable damage to nationally significant natural resources. All federal mammal or bird damage control programs must be conducted in a manner that contributes to the maintenance of environmental quality, and to the conservation and protection, to the greatest degree possible, of the nation's wildlife resources including predatory animals. The order modified (but curiously does not refer to) 7 U.S.C. §426 (1970),1 which vested authority to conduct animal destruction or control campaigns in the Secretary of Agriculture without describing methods to be used. Federal lands in metropolitan areas and those administered by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to his trust responsibilities for Indian affairs are excluded from the new prohibition.

E.O. No. 11644 directs the Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, and Defense, and the head of the TVA to issue regulations designating specific areas and trails on public lands under their jurisdictions on which off-road vehicles may be operated and areas from which they are to be excluded. Off-road vehicles are defined as any motorized vehicles capable of cross-country travel over land, water, marsh, ice, or snow. Trails and areas for off-road vehicle use must be located so as to minimize damage to soil, watershed, vegetation, wildlife and wildlife habitats, and to minimize conflicts between off-road vehicle use and other existing or proposed recreational uses for the land in question or neighboring public land. Such areas and trails may not be located in officially designated Wilderness or Primitive Areas, but may be put in National Parks, Natural Areas, National Wildlife Refuges, and Game Ranges if the respective agency head determines that off-road vehicle use in these locations will not adversely affect natural, aesthetic, or scenic values. The agency heads are also required to promulgate regulations within one year prescribing operating conditions for off-road vehicles on the public lands in order to protect resource values and preserve public health and safety. The agencies themselves are directed to monitor the effects of the use of off-road vehicles on lands under their jurisdiction, prescribe penalties for violations, and establish enforcement procedures.

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