Friday, October 30, 2009

Quiet Recreation is Making Noise

After submitting formal comments on the Mount Hood National Forest’s DEIS for Travel Management, I am reminded of the growing howl coming from anti-access groups like BARK demanding that more multiple-use roads, trails, and areas be closed to OHV use.

See My Sept 9 Blog on BARK/Quiet Recreation and the Mt. Hood

Photo: Amador on Single Track Trail on Mt. Hood

Some of you have seen recent articles espousing the economic virtues of non-motorized “quiet” recreation such as hiking while downplaying the economic benefit of motorized recreation such as ATV or dirt-bike use.

Article in Fiscal Impacts of “Quiet Recreation”

It appears that a new study called the “Recreation Economic Impact Tool” produced by
Kreg Lindberg at Central Oregon Recreation Services is being used or misused as a bullhorn by the quiet recreation crowd to loudly shout (or BARK in some cases) for blanket closures to OHVs including non-street legal OHVs on Forests going through the TMR process.

Link to CORS and the Tool

I did contact Professor Lindberg regarding my concerns about the fact that I could not find in any of his research where the nexus is appreciated between the use (and hence the economic benefit) of motorized vehicles by forest visitors to access non-motorized activities.

The General served on the California OHV State Park Commission in the 1990s and I remember an old public land planning tool/concept that was used by both state and federal land agencies. That historic foundation block in land use planning was that a vast majority of all types of recreation (motorized and non-motorized) is vehicle-based and takes place with ¼ mile of the vehicle.

See How the Quiet Recreation Crowd wants OHV (Mt. Hood is a good case study) restricted to just a few "small islands" in the NF.

One source of user conflicts between quiet recreationists and the OHV community is often times roads and motorized trails are used by folks who want quiet recreation and then they are frustrated when OHVs use the same area. Since, most quiet recreation occurs (or should occur) in Wilderness or other non-motorized land-use classifications…the quiet user is only ¼ mile or less from the road. Hence, the quiet recreation sought after is sometimes disturbed.

Many quiet recreationists don't have time to hike into the core of Wilderness areas because of a lack of time or resources. Rather they use a vehicle for rapid access to the outer boundaries of the Wilderness (or go to an OHV area!) and then complain about legal motorized uses.

OHV advocates must be aware of Quiet Recreation Groups who are now loudly screaming for you – the OHV user – to not only be silent… but be gone as well.

Thanks for your service!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Buffers, Filters, Camels, and Travel Management

As more National Forest’s enter into the DEIS or FEIS phase of the Travel Management Rule, there is a disturbing trend that has appeared. Some Units appear to have developed
a “decision filter” through which the designation of OHV roads and trails must pass.
*Photo: Don Amador at 2004 Black Dog DS Ride on Mt. Hood National Forest

Yesterday, the public comment period ended for the Mount Hood National Forest’s DEIS. On behalf of the BlueRibbon Coalition, I filed a comment letter on the proposal.

BRC Oct. 28, 2009 Comment Letter on the Mount Hood DEIS

One of the DEIS’s procedural flaws was that it “created” new OHV policies based on public input and developed a “new” purpose and need/proposed action that was starkly different than the original purposed and need/proposed action. Also, the need to buffer out OHV recreation that was near Wilderness areas or other non-motorized land-use classifications was now an implicit or explicit part of the agency’s decision matrix.

The General wants riders to watch for the “buffer” issue to be used on other Forests.
As some of you know, in most Wilderness Bills (including the recent 130,000 acre Lewis and Clark Wilderness Bill for the Mount Hood) there is very strong language that prohibits the agency from creating buffer zones (including buffers for “quiet recreation”) around Wilderness areas.

See Sec. 105, page 73, for Buffer Language in the 2007 Lewis and Clark Wilderness Act

It is important for OHV advocates to know about this very specific buffer language because you will often find local “quiet recreation” advocates cheering for more OHV routes to be closed next to Wilderness or other non-motorized land classifications

Oct. 25 “Quiet Recreation” Guest Column

The General urges OHV advocates and local recreationists to be on the lookout for Forest Service units that have created a highly restrictive “closure filter” through which TMR must pass. From what I have seen on some Forests – it may be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle then for an OHV route to be designated.

Thank in advance for your continued efforts on TMR. It has, and continues to be, an extremely difficult process. Hang in there!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Man Up and Join BRC Today

The General wanted the OHV community to be aware of the new BRC membership promos that are directed at dirt-bikers, ATVers, and 4wd owners. With these very cool membership and benefit programs… there is NO excuse for you and your riding buddies for not joining BRC.

*Photo at rightThe General has had several Monteros before (I like Monteros!) and recently purchased this BF Goodrich Tire equipped used 2001 Montero from a BRC member in Reno at High Sierra Auto

Dirt-Bikers/ATV – Rocky Mtn. ATV - $25 dollar Gift Card when you join BRC for $29 dollars

4WD Owners - 4Wheel Parts - $25 dollar Gift Card plus up to 15% off of other parts when you join for BRC for $29 – See Del’s Video/info in link below


BFGoodrich Donates $5 bucks per tire promo

I know we are in hard times. However, land-use battles are not going away. In fact, The General believes we are facing some very tough access issues now and in the coming year or two. Now is the time to man-up or woman-up and join the fight. Becoming a BRC member is a good first step. A salute to those of you who are BRC members and/or members of a state or local OHV club.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Light at End of Tunnel in Region 5?

As my readers know, The General continues to have serious concerns about how the Travel Management Rule (TMR) is being used or misused in Region 5 by some Forests as a closure tool. Often times, TMR proposals have very little to do with addressing “cross-country use/travel” as articulated in the Chief’s famous “4-Threats” Speech.

2004 Four Threats Speech

OHVers in many cases are seeing their comments, route submissions, and suggestions apparently ignored by some Forests particularly the Shasta Trinity National Forest. The S-T’s DEIS proposes to close almost 100% of currently legal motorcycle trails and ATV trails less than 50 inches in width.

However, in the case of the Sequoia National Forest’s FEIS is does appear on first read that the Forest did listen to suggestions made by BRC, Stewards of the Sequoia, and others in the development of the modified alternative 3 – the preferred alternative.

SUMMARY OF FEIS (note on pages 76-80 where the Forest responds to suggestions made by BRC, Stewards, and others)

Although we are not out of the woods yet when it comes to TMR in Region 5 and elsewhere, the Sequoia NF may be an example of where the agency did take to heart some of the public comments and suggestions.

The General urges his followers to stay involved and he salutes those who are!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hunting with OHVs on Public Lands

This last weekend The General was up at tech for the Jackhammer Enduro on the Mendocino National Forest as lead for the BRC/FMF Sound Testing Program for OHVs.
*Photo of The General quail hunting in the Southern Sierra
Seeing a number of hunters staging from the popular OHV campgrounds in the Fouts Springs area, I was reminded of the need for sportsmen to remember that OHV laws also apply to their activity. Historically, some hunters don’t view themselves as “OHV users.” Rather, they think of themselves as different and that OHV laws don’t apply to them.

The challenge for OHV organizations and agencies has been to improve their outreach to the hunting community regarding the use of ATVs and UTVs on roads and trails. One such effort that includes an instructional video comes from the State of Idaho.


While watching the video, I had to give credit to both the law enforcement officer and the user who were trying to read a MVUM. Most of the MVUM’s I have seen are hard to decipher… even if you are familiar with the area.

Kudos to the agencies and other folks in Idaho who put this together. Lot’s of good information for the OHV and hunting community.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Nov. 14 Trail Cleanup - Plumas National Forest

The General’s friend and trail guru – Doug Teeter, president of the Paradise Ridge Riders – is planning a trail cleanup for Saturday November 14th from 9:00 am until the job is done. They will meet at the intersection of the Oro Quincy Hwy and French Creek Rd. N 39-41-107, W 121-21-710 the dump site is located approx. 1/10 of a mile down French Creek Rd. and then approx 1 mile left down Forest Rd. 21N44.

The Forest Service will place a dumpster at the Brush Creek Station (about 3-4 mi. from the dump site) were we will transfer the debris from our trucks/trailers. The Forest Service will pay all dump and rental fees, all labor will be volunteer.

Forest service contact for this project is Joel Osofsky

Paradise Ridge Rider contact is Doug Teeter

This project on the Plumas National Forest is done in cooperation between the Feather River Ranger District and Ironman Dual Sport, Paradise Ridge Riders, Chico Honda, Chico Motorsports, and many others.

These types of volunteer projects (i.e. cleanups, trail maintenance, etc.) are an important part of any successful OHV management program. Forests that have volunteer programs also score higher on the OHV grant application process at California State Parks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vote on S. 1571

The General often checks OpenCongress to track legislation. Yesterday, I alerted my fellow riders about S. 1571 and the ongoing saga of certain politicians to permanently site a correctional facility at the confluence of two streams and in the center of a popular destination recreation area in Northern California.

If you feel so inclined, please go to the website below and VOTE if you support or oppose S. 1571.

Vote Here at OpenCongress

Thanks for your interest in land-use issues!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

S. 1571 - Oppose Correctional Facility at Major OHV Area

Sometimes what appear to be small issues can be overlooked by recreationists especially during busy periods when we all are dealing with travel management planning efforts, Wilderness proposals, budget issues, and other land-use decisions.

Many of The General’s followers ride or have ridden at the Stonyford OHV Area on the Mendocino National Forest. It is home to one of the most popular destination OHV areas in Northern California. Also, it is popular with hikers, fisherman, hunters, and hang gliders.
*Click on photo for larger view of facility and relationship to nearby campsites.

Info on H.R. 1043/S.1571

For a number of years, some members of Congress have been pushing ill-advised legislation that would permanently transfer lands to the Fouts Springs Youth Correctional Facility and out of federal ownership. The question is not that The General or OHVers don’t support rehabilitation of troubled youth (we do!), but rather should a correctional facility be permanently sited in the center of a large recreation area? The site is directly adjacent to 6 family camping/staging areas.

Several years ago, the FS did a Feasibility Study that showed the highest and best use of that acreage would be for future recreational use such as camping/RV parking or possibly for the training of firefighters, etc. The General agrees with that conclusion.

Last year, BRC, AMA-sanctioned motorcycle clubs/members, and other recreationists sent letters opposing the Deafy Glade Land Exchange Act. This year, it has resurfaced as H.R. 1043 and S. 1571. BRC has sent in letters to several key Senators since H.R. 1043 has passed the House. If and when it makes it to future senate hearings, there may be a need for OHVers and others to weigh in heavy on this subject. In the meantime, feel free to send in a letter (see BRC letters for Senator contact info/FAX numbers) or post a comment on this blog.

BRC Letters to the Senate on S. 1571

Thanks for your service!

Friday, October 9, 2009

MVUM Implementation & Law Enforcement

As various Forests throughout the country produce or soon will produce MVUMs, the public will have questions about implementation and enforcement of the MVUM. The General believes the decision notice or ROD should have a narrative for how the agency intends to implement the MVUM.

I have received a number of emails from riders who want to know if the agency is going to immediately start writing tickets based on CFRs cited in the MVUM - as noted below:

Violations of 36 CFR 261.13 are subject to a fine of up to
$5,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months or both (18 U.S.C.
3571(e)). This prohibition applies regardless of the presence
or absence of signs.

Or, will the agency coordinate a phase-in of law enforcement initially using education and outreach (instead of immediately citing users) such as land agencies did with the 2003 CA 96dBA OHV sound law or law enforcement agencies did with auto/driver cell phone ban?

I found an example of a coordinated/education effort on the Payette National Forest. In their ROD, the Forest describes how it will use a coordinated approach of education, outreach, signing, collaboration, functional maps, doing new trail projects etc. rather than immediately writing 5K tickets or sending people to prison. They will use exiting authority to cite for resource damage in the meantime.

See pages 29/30 for the ROD’s implementation narrative

Regardless of what approach (hard core enforcement v. education/phase-in) the agency adopts, there should be a narrative some place in the decision document or public notice (and clearly posted on the website) so that the public and user groups know where they stand and what to expect.
# # #

Thursday, October 8, 2009

OHV Acres Left in California

Every once in awhile, The General gets a question from a rider or reporter about the number of acres in California that still allow motorized recreation. Often that question stems from the wild claims of Wilderness advocates who state that “our Wilderness Bill is only for areas that don’t have legal OHV use in them and that OHVers have lots of other places to ride.”

Well that claim might have been true when the Wilderness Act of 1964 was signed into law, but since then we have had various new rounds of Wilderness designations including the Wilderness Act of 1984 (that’s when a lot of legal OHV routes were closed) and others including the California Desert Protection Act where millions of acres were closed to OHVs or lands were transferred to the National Park Service.

In 2002, OHMVR published a report called Taking the High Road – The Future of OHV in California. I don’t think there are any copies left or in circulation. However, I have posted page 13 of that report which shows the loss of OHV acres from 1980 to 2000. Remember too that California is approximately 100,000 million acres in size.

Link to Taking the High Road

Certainly the new rounds of Wilderness proposals, travel management plans, reclassification of lands, and other issues will impact OHV access to public lands. What that means is the fight will be harder to keep what we have left. That means staying engaged in the land-use and political process. Yes, I did say political since ALL land use decisions are political decisions. This is no time for the faint of heart or for those who are easily discouraged. Rather, this is the time for effective advocacy on all fronts.

Helmets off to all of you who support land use organizations, attend meetings, rally local clubs, and partake in the administrative and political process.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Roads of My Father

The General had a rare and unique “step back in time” experience this weekend while riding the Lost Coast Dual Sport Ride in NW California. As some of my followers know, I was born and raised in Cutten, a small community on the outskirts of Eureka.
*Click on photo for larger view

After WW2, my dad worked in the logging industry from 1950-1961 and then was hired as a foreman for Burman Construction Company. As a kid (aka The Cuttenkid), I remember driving on many of Humboldt County’s roads with my dad. Back in those days, the timber industry was going strong and many small communities had vibrant populations, grocery stores, and gas stations. Today they are mostly ghost towns.

In the early 1970s, The General worked at a lumber mill in Blue Lake that was eventually put out of business by the establishment of Redwood National Park. The sorter crew that I worked on actually set a mill record of pulling/sorting 220,000 board feet of lumber in an eight hour shift.

Seeing this small “logging museum” along one of the back roads in the Fort Seward area brought back some fond memories of driving on those same roads with my dad or handing him up a sandwich when he was running the dozer.

Thanks North Bay Motorcycle Club for the great ride and for allowing me to once again experience the backcountry roads of Humboldt County.

PS - My dad passed away in 1998

Friday, October 2, 2009

HR 1925 UT Wilderness Bill is a Zombie

One thing that I really hate are zombies. There is almost nothing that you can do to kill them … and, just when you think they are dead – they come back to life.

The never ending effort by SUWA and out-of-state legislators to resurrect the infamous 9.4 million acres of "potential Wilderness" in new versions of the same old Wilderness bill (now called HR 1925) reminds me of a land-use version of a zombie.

In Sept, BRC issued an alert to have its members send letters to their legislators in prep for the Oct. 1 hearing:

It looks like a lot of riders sent those letters, based on what I heard about the testimony of the UT Congressional Delegation and other gov.t officials:

AMA also had something to say about the proposal

On May 5, The General wrote a blog about new Wilderness bills and the need to include the “Pombo Doctrine” in any new Wilderness legislation – see blog for a discussion of that issue and a copy of the Pombo Doctrine.

I think I have found a cure for the “Wilderness Zombie.” How about giving the wilderness undead a large dose of the Pombo Doctrine?