Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Conservation Easements and Confusion at Davis NCA Meeting

The Recreation HQ has for a number of months shared concerns about how OHV use will be treated in Obama’s Great Outdoor Initiative. The General has kept riders informed about the various FOIAs and other efforts to day-light information on either new National Monuments or National Conservation Areas.

Update on July 8 LA Meeting and Glaring Absence of OHV in Obama Plan and State Proclamations

Today, the General, on behalf of BRC and my friend Dave Pickett AMA D36, attended the Great Outdoors Meeting hosted by Congressman Mike Thompson and U.C. Davis.
There were a number of other OHV representatives there including Amy Granat (Cal4WD) and Nick Haris (AMA). Several riders attended as well.

Rather than having a focused meeting on Outdoor recreation and the proposed Berryessa-Snow Mountain NCA plan, this meeting meandered on several non-recreation topics and was strangely bizarre and abstract. The panel included Cong. Mike Thompson and a several heavy hitters from the Obama administration including Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality.

I don’t think the topic of recreation was even mentioned by the main panel. Also, the sub-panel (mostly private land owners not in the NCA boundary) gave 3 presentations on conservation, conservation easements, and the need for Congress to fund various entitlement programs that benefit the aforementioned subjects.

While conservation programs are important, HQ felt the panel missed the opportunity present the proposed Berryessa NCA and to highlight outdoor recreation.

At the end of the two panel presentations, Congressman Thompson passed the microphone around the room for people to speak. Most speakers there praised the Obama administration and many asked for taxpayer funded eco-handouts from the federal government.

Several pro-access speakers got up and championed access to public lands. The General used his one minute of fame to pick up on what the EPA panelist said about how the feds should…”base programs on what works.” HQ could not agree more and, in fact, suggested to the panel that when they go to an area of the country… to simply pick up the phone and call the Regional Forester and ask him/her for the most successful and collaborative recreation programs in their district. Had CEQ called Randy Moore (R5 Regional Forester), he would have told them about how the Inyo National Forest is a model of how to get things done. CEQ should have then invited Inyo staff to be on the panel and give a presentation.

At the end of the day, the Davis meeting was confusing and disappointing. I did get to say hi to Nancy Sutley and gave her my business card and said I would see her at the LA meeting tomorrow. The General also talked with the proponents of the Berryessa plan and told them that any proposal must protect what is the largest and most successful destination federal OHV recreation program north of the LA area. And, that they must do a better job of outreach and communication when making a proposal that could impact OHV.

HQ also talked with Thompson’s staff and urged them to meet with local users, county governments, and other interests BEFORE launching any legislation.

Finally, HQ thanks the riders who showed up for a lesson in politics and process. It takes time to become an effective OHV advocate and coming to meetings such as the Davis event is part of the learning process. Thanks to all those who came to the program.

I hope to see some of you down at the LA Outdoor Meeting tomorrow.

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