Tuesday, September 14, 2010

November Election and Access on Federal Lands

On this mini ‘Super Tuesday” where there are a several primaries being decided, The General is reminded of the August 25 Forest Service Management Roundtable where Congressman Tom McClintock addressed a number of access issues that are impacting his constituents.
PHOTO: A few riders on a "Remember Eddie Diaz" trail ride

See July 21 blog on “Cost Recovery” and Issues on the Eldorado

The Recreation HQ believes the agency’s fear of environmental lawsuits is driving a lot of FS and BLM decisions here in California.

ELDORADO - As HQ points out in the aforementioned blog, the reason for increased cost recovery charges to CERA and the Polka Dots has nothing to do with protecting the environment but are simply self-preservation steps to protect the agency from being forced to spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars defending itself against ongoing and future eco-litigation. And then paying EAJA awards to the litigants.

TMR - The FS closed thousands of miles of forest roads and trails to OHVs because of the enviro’s promise of endless litigation if those closures were not put into effect. Yet despite massive closures, the greens showed their “lust for closures” by filing a lawsuit against the Stanislaus NF’s travel plan because it did not close enough.

See blog on Lust for Closures

CCMA - Here the BLM decided to make the Central BLM District of CA an “OHV free zone” by closing the 75K acre CCMA. HQ believes this is being driven by the threat of a lawsuit against the BLM unless they close the unit to OHVs. In fact, the BLM even stated that at a public meeting.

See Tobin’s June 22 blog (scroll down to it) and read BLM’s explanation for the closure regarding fear of litigation

What does all of this have to do with today’s primary? Since “all land use decisions [and closures] are political decisions,” the statement by Congressman McClintock to use the power of his position to hold access and recreation related hearings in the next session of Congress could have a significant impact on these issues.

Currently, there is an anti-trail majority in the House of Representatives. Most of the hearings have centered on the need to exclude historic public use of federal lands in favor of highly restrictive land use designations and programs with OHV being the scapegoat for all of this country’s environmental woes. At these hearings, McClintock and other pro-access legislators worked hard to advocate for public access, but most of the time they are ignored since they are in the minority.

If pro-trail interests are voted into office on November 2, access champions like Congressman McClintock and Congressman Rob Bishop will be in a position to hold agency leadership accountable for the decisions they are making. They could also work on EAJA reform. It’s unfortunate that land use has become a political football but that is the stark reality.

2011 could be a very interesting year depending on what happens November 2.

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