Thursday, July 15, 2010

S. 2921, Wilderness, and Land Use in the 21st Century

The Recreation HQ wants to expand a bit regarding BRC’s support for S. 2921 - the California Desert Protection Act of 2010 as highlighted in The General’s blog regarding the Obama Outdoor Event in LA.

Blog on Obama LA Event with CWC Mention of BRC Support for S. 2921

At the LA event, HQ talked with a number of OHVers and other public land access interests about S. 2921. There were a lot of OHVers who support the bill as it is currently written. Other OHV groups might have supported it but were concerned the bill language would change in committee (a valid concern). Several access groups were adamantly opposed to the bill. Good news it that most of us respect the other group’s opinion and when at odds – we can respectfully agree to disagree.

HQ knows the bill is not perfect and that it is a compromise piece of legislation. If this was 1975 would OHV be supporting this bill? I don’t think so. However, a lot has changed since the old days of 1960-1980s era Big Gulp Wilderness Bills where enviros would push through land use bills that did not have consensus nor support from local stakeholders, county officials, and users.

That old Wilderness paradigm was changed in the 2006 Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act. (HR 233). Just as in HR 233, proponents of S. 2921 held endless meetings with local stakeholders, participated in numerous field trips to ground-truth routes, and although it designated a lot of new Wilderness…not one legal OHV route was closed in HR 233.

HQ believes S. 2921 captured HR 233’s spirit of collaboration by designating OHV use in a number of OHV areas similar to the 2006 Cow Mountain Recreation Area where OHV use was codified.

A great read on the efforts of BRC and others to make sure OHV and access were included in HR 233 is archived at MTB Action

Just as with Obama’s Great Outdoor Initiative, OHV must be actively engaged in the political process. S. 2921, HR 233, and Obama’s GOA prove The General’s now famous axiom that “All land use decisions (and associated processes) are political decisions” and is a cornerstone of modern OHV advocacy.

Is S. 2921 perfect? No. Compromise bills never are. However, the other option of staying home is not viable either. Will green groups continue to push for new Wilderness and NCAs after S. 2921 is signed into law? Yes. To counter that, OHV must be just as committed to champion our access rights to public land and to stay engaged.

Thanks for your service regardless of if you support S. 2921 or not.

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