Sunday, March 27, 2011
For the last several months, HQ has posted alerts, information, and narratives about government officials taking (some call it stealing) money from the user-pay/user-benefit CA OHV Trust Fund.
There have been hearings, letter writing campaigns, and other efforts to challenge the ongoing thefts from the OHV Trust Fund. There have also been a newspaper article or opinion piece or two on this subject but they have not clearly identified the OHV program as being completed user funded.
The goods news on the media front is that a local newspaper in the Lake Tahoe area got the story straight - for the most part -with interviews from the BRC, Tahoe Sierra OHV Club, and OHMVR Division.
March 27, 2011 Tahoe Daily Tribune
Anyway, HQ thanks all of you who made the effort to defend the OHV Trust Fund.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Recreation HQ wants to remind the OHV community about the rapidly approaching April 4 deadline for the public comment period on the 2010/2011 OHV grant cycle. HQ believes it is important for local users and clubs to weigh in with support letters, letters that offer a critique, or even letters of opposition if needed.
Info and Overview of the CA 2010/2011 Grants Cycle/Public Comment Period
Please take time to review the list of grant applicants (counties, FS, BLM, non-profits, etc) who have submitted grants and where the public has commented on them.
Review of Grant Applicants who have received public comments (they are highlighted)
The grant comment system is a bit complex and you have to read the instructions linked below to maneuver your way through the grant website to find a specific grant to comment on. The instructions are linked to below:
Important Instructions on how to access and review preliminary grant applications
You can try this link that I believe with take allow you to follow a number of steps and go directly to the list of preliminary grant applications – click on “grant program” drop down and then highlight “GCA-10” and then click on “Find” (it may not work and you have to go thru the above steps in the above links)
Don Amador, on behalf of BRC, has submitted comment letters (Six Rivers, Mendocino, Ukiah/Arcata BLM) today on several riding areas that it he is familiar with. Generally, national organizations do not write grant support letters for local units because it is better for users with site-specific knowledge to make those comments.
QWR may also be sending in some comments on specific grants.
HQ encourages you to take a few minutes and send in a comment letter. Please fwd this information to your rider network.
Thanks for your involvement.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
A Poster Users Made at Coalinga Meeting to Highlight Agency Bias Against OHV Use
The Recreation HQ is proud to announce that the OHV Division has released a long anticipated independent study on the impacts, or lack thereof, of naturally occurring asbestos on OHV users riding at Clear Creek.
March 23, 2011 - OHV Division News Release with Link to Asbestos Study
March 23, 2011 – BRC News Release on OHV Asbestos Study
HQ believes this report validates the OHV community’s concerns that the closure at CCMA was politically motivated and was a gross abuse of federal power by a government agent.
HQ blogged back in Jan. 15, 2010 that the BLM and EPA should be ashamed of themselves for foisting an unwarranted 70K acre landscape level closure on the American People.
Jan. 15 Blog with Links and Stories
HQ believes this closure has caused great harm to local users, businesses, and the community. OHV dealerships have closed. There is no excuse for this behavior and this abuse of power by government officials should be the object of a Congressional inquiry or hearing. Rick Cooper, the BLM Area Manager, told me on several occasions that he made the decision NOT to review options or management tools that would allow for CCMA to remain open. As the report states, there are many activities that occur on public lands that are far more dangerous. Yet, you have a government official that went out of his way to exclude any options to keep CCMA open.
HQ believes this issue has gone beyond the Hollister Field Office and will most likely be addressed by BLM Director Bob Abbey with input from county officials, OHV users, recreation organizations, gem collectors, Congress, and the OHV Division.
Stay tuned for more updates, as it appears the CA OHV Commission will have a hearing on this issue on April 5 in Hollister, at the Veterans' Hall on 649 San Benito Street just a few blocks from the San Benito County Board of Supervisors Office. The county officials have been real heroes in this fight as well.
April 7, 2010 Blog about County Voting to Reopen Roads in CCMA
HQ thanks all who worked tirelessly on this issue since May 2008. It has been, and will continue to be, a tough fight. It is an effort worth the battle. There is only one Clear Creek and we want it reopened to OHV use - Period
Friday, March 18, 2011
FS Planning Rule - Alt. A
As some of you are preparing for the upcoming Forest Service Planning Rule meetings next week, HQ wanted to give you some background information on this issue. The public meetings next week (with no opportunity for formal public comment) are simply a way for the agency to comply with NEPA requirements (and spend a lot of taxpayer monies that could be used for more practical efforts such as trail maintenance, trail planning, or do the required NEPA for permitted events).
Here are the CA Meetings on March 21 – All Meetings are 9:00 a.m. til Noon
*** Be sure and recheck the locations for the FS Planning Rule Public Meetings. It appears the agency updated the national meeting schedule late Friday afternoon shortly after HQ posted its blog. The agency changed the Sacramento location to a new location about ½ north of the original location. The new Sacramento location is:
Garden Pavilion Hotel
5640 Dudley Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95652
Angeles National Forest
Forest Supervisor’s Office
701 North Santa Anita Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91006
Shasta -Trinity National Forest
Forest Supervisor’s Office
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002
HQ’s initial impression from reading the DEIS is it basically ignores the agency’s congressionally directed multiple-use mandate and makes that historic agency mission subservient to “preservation” and ecological sustainability. Also, the plan’s self-imposed requirements to maintain species viability will trump traditional multiple-uses.
Lastly, there are a lot of new terms that have not been legally or congressionally defined (e.g.. connectivity, ecosystem diversity, sustainable recreation, viable species population, etc) that will set the agency up for an avalanche of taxpayer-funded eco-lawsuits.
Again, HQ believes that traditional multiple-uses of public lands (recreation, timber, grazing, permitted events and activities, etc.) will be trumped by, and made subservient to, environmental tenets if a different (pro multiple-use) alternative is not selected.
VARIOUS INFO ON THE FS PLANNING RULE DEIS AND MEETINGS
FS Planning Rule Homepage with Meetings, DEIS, etc.
Video to Watch Regarding Planning Rule
Planning Rule DEIS Summary (Good Overview)
February 14, 2011 BRC Alert on the FS Planning Rule
February 16, 2010 BRC Scoping Comments on the FS Planning Rule (Good read – focus on BRC concerns E through S)
The important thing to remember is that a lot of national and regional multiple-use and recreation groups will be weighing in with written comments during the formal comment period and you should consider sending in your own comments as well. Be sure and send the Recreation HQ some feedback if you attend one of the planning rule meetings in CA or elsewhere.
Thanks for your continued support and involvement!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
This was the best attended commission meeting in the last 3 years and it showed the high level of concern by the OHV community regarding the $10 million dollar “shift” out of the OHV Trust Fund to the General Fund and the potential loan of $21 million dollars from the OHV Reserve Fund.
HQ noted four reoccurring themes in most of the public testimony and commission comments.
1 – Stealing money from the OHV Trust Fund violates the public trust
2 – Stealing money from the OHV Trust Fund is a double tax
3 – Stealing money from the OHV Trust Fund is illegal
4 – Stealing money from the OHV Trust Fund violates the legislative intent of SB742
After an hour or two of public testimony the commission voted to send a letter to the Governor and legislature regarding their opposition to taking the money which violates the public “trust” in the Trust Fund. They are also going to send a letter seeking to resolve the fungible issue based on what many feel is an illegitimate decision made by the Legislative Analyst’s Office in 2009.
After taking a short break, the commission reconvened and took additional public comment on non-agenda issues. BRC’s Don Amador updated the commission on some recent developments regarding Clear Creek. Those updates and issues included the congressional hearing last week where the BLM Director was asked about the closure of Clear Creek, the commission and public should receive an update or status report on the OHMVR Division’s Asbestos Study, and the FEIS is on the brink of being published in the Federal Register.
HQ believes the commission is considering a meeting in the Hollister area in the next 3-4 weeks to review the Clear Creek issue. That is a good thing.
Thanks to all for taking time off work to attend this meeting. Your commitment to the program made a lasting impression on state park staff, the OHV commission, and me.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
As most HQ followers already know, government officials are once again proposing to “shift” (don’t know if it is loan or a take) $10 million dollars ($5 million from grants and $5 million from Division) out of the OHV Trust Fund. Also, there is a proposal to “sweep” (don’t know if it is loan or take) $21+ million dollars out of the OHV Reserve Fund.
Because of the thousands of letters and phone calls from extremely frustrated (some are even angry) OHV enthusiasts to your elected officials, park staff, and the OHV Commission, the Commission has scheduled a special meeting/hearing on this issue for Monday, March 14, 2011 in Sacramento.
HQ does not usually urge riders to take time off work or make a special trip (however thanks to those of you who do attend regular meetings) to attend regularly scheduled OHV commission meetings, but this is of such a critical nature that HQ is making a formal request for attendance to those who will be impacted by the shifting of funds out of the OHV program. Those affected stakeholders include OHV enthusiasts, FS/BLM recreation staff and law enforcement officers, county parks, local sheriff departments, search and rescue teams, county park departments, local police departments, and many others.
2001 Point West Way
Sacramento, CA 95815
March 14, 2011 at 9:30 am
LINKS TO AGENDA ITEMS:
WHO SHOULD ATTEND:
Riders, shop owners, aftermarket manufacturers, federal land managers, local law enforcement, county officials, affected businesses, and other stakeholders that will be impacted by this fiscal hit to the OHV program.
I will be there and I hope that many of you will come and take a stand with me and other members of the OHV family to fight against another raid on the OHV Trust Fund. Let’s put the “Trust” back into the Trust Fund.
See you there.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Several riders have contacted the HQ asking about any updates on the impact of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to strike down the federal defendant rule on January 14, 2011.
See January 14 Blog with Overview/Video of that Decision http://thegeneralsrecreationden.blogspot.com/2011/01/major-ohv-legal-victory-today-9th.html
In answer to that question, HQ is proud to report the Missoula Division of the U.S. District of Montana Court recently granted intervention “as of right” (a legal term) to recreation interests and cited the 9th Circuit decision. This is notable because the same Court has historically been liberal in allowing intervention by all interested parties, but has done so via permissive intervention.
Link to February 9 Missoula Court Order
HQ believes that access and other multiple-use interests will continue to benefit from that 9th Circuit Court decision.
Friday, March 4, 2011
The Recreation HQ wants to thank all of you who sent in letters, made phone calls, and attended meetings. As you know, there was an effort to gut the entire CA OHV Program. That reality could have closed SVRAs, shut down the Division, and ended the grants program.
Over the last 3 weeks, you let your legislators know that you did not want them to steal money from one of the very few successful user-pay/user-benefit programs in the state. You also asked them to put the “Trust” back in the OHV Trust Fund.
Based on the vote yesterday by the Budget Conference Committee... that group appears to have heard your voice. As some of you know, they voted to “shift” $10 million dollars out of the OHV Trust Fund ($5 million from the grants program and $5 million from the Division/Support program). We will have to see if "shift" means a loan or a take.
Based on the fact that we were looking at a complete annihilation of the OHV program, HQ feels this is somewhat of a victory. However, we need to be careful about calling it a victory because the war against the OHV program is far from over. We have yet to see if the Governor will actually sweep out $21 million dollars from the OHV reserve fund.
Also, other attacks against the program could occur between now and when the Governor signs this budget later this spring. I think it is interesting that we have not seen the “list” of proposed state park units that will be closed. My feeling is that state parks was waiting to see how much they could steal from us before posting that soon to be infamous list of park closures.
As it stands right now according to my best analysis… here is what the OHV program looks like for the 2010-2011 budget (remember the Gov. and legislature will have to fight over the 2011-2012 budget in a few months).
$27 million for the Division/Support Budget/SVRAs
$22 million for the Grants Program
HQ urges you to stand ready for the next fight. The ongoing battle to protect our OHV program will be of historic proportions this year. Your continued support and activism will be important.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
What Interior/BLM's Wild Lands Plan Means for Rural Economies
HQ wants to commend all the recreationists who sent letters over the last two days to Congress regarding the BLM’s Wild Lands policy. As some of you know, the creation of de facto Wilderness by federal agencies is not our only problem. Throughout the West, OHV clubs are being forced to cancel traditional motorized permitted events because the BLM and FS are now charging up to $50,000 dollars or more for these group activities.
Historically, the agency used to charge only a minimal fee or an appropriate percentage of the gross receipts largely because of the economic benefit it brought to the local community and that hosting public events was part of their congressionally directed multiple-use mandate.
As you might have seen in the Wild Lands hearing yesterday, the BLM admitted it does not have the statutory authority to eleveate the creation of de facto Wilderness above other uses.
Hearing News Release and Video Regarding Statutory Authority
Today, HQ was pleased to see that Senator Lisa Murkowski questioned the Interior/BLM budget priorities with regards to the Wild Lands policy, user fees, and other issues.
News Release from Sen. Murkowski
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: ROBERT DILLON (202) 224-6977
MARCH 2, 2011 MEGAN HERMANN (202) 224-7875
Murkowski Questions Proposed Budget for Interior Department
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today made the following statement during the Department of Interior fiscal year 2012 budget hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee:
“Chairman Bingaman, thank you for scheduling this hearing.
“Before we begin, I would like to note with sadness the recent passing of former Chairman Jim McClure. Chairman McClure’s strong work ethic and sense of fairness is a vital part of this Committee’s legacy. He was one of a long line of chairmen who have sustained the tradition of the Energy Committee as forum for the fair consideration and resolution of serious policy debates that continues to this day. I would like to extend my sympathy to his family and many friends. He will not be forgotten, but he will be greatly missed.
“Secretary Salazar, thank you for being here to discuss the President’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012. Much has changed in our nation’s political landscape and in the international arena since the last time you testified here. And I must say – I’m deeply concerned that the budget proposal before us today seems to be from that time.
“Many of the Department of the Interior’s recommendations ignore our current reality – among other things, a $1.6 trillion dollar federal deficit, and rising unrest that has spiked oil prices to the point where our economic recovery could be threatened. Instead of addressing those challenges, the Department is seeking to expand the role and “footprint” of the federal government, increase taxpayers’ liability for maintenance, and place more land off limits to recreation and resource exploration.
“There are a few things I would like to specifically address here today. First on my list is the Department’s new “Wild Lands” policy. Your Order has vast potential to lock up and limit access to lands throughout the country, but particularly in Alaska, where two-thirds of our land is owned by the Federal Government.
“On its face, the “Wild Lands” policy appears to be a workaround of limitations in the Wilderness Act. Interior has also specifically stated that BLM land which was previously dedicated for a specific purpose, like the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, will be reevaluated and could be designated as “Wild Lands”. So it appears that Interior not only wants to take control over land designations away from Congress, but also intends to review and perhaps overrule past congressional decisions.
“There are serious questions about the wisdom of the proposed increases in so many taxes and fees, across the board, on the energy companies we’re responsible for regulating, and whether that’s really more likely to result in the law being carried out in the expeditious manner Congress has demanded. Given the deeply troubling situations in Libya, Bahrain, and Iraq, there is little, if any, patience for continued delay in bringing back our American energy production and the associated jobs.
“Another proposal that seriously troubles me is the full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund under the category of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative. Given the pressing need to balance our budget, I have to question this spending. Each land management agency within the Department of the Interior already has a sizeable maintenance backlog. The National Park Service alone is at $9 billion. If we cannot afford to manage the land that we already have entrusted to the federal government, then it is irresponsible to acquire more.
“Finally, on a more parochial note, I am very concerned that the Department has recommended a 54 percent reduction in the Alaska Conveyance Program. This program, which is required by the Alaska Land Conveyance Acceleration Act of 2004, works to fulfill the promise made to Alaska’s Native people when Alaska entered the union. It has been 40 years since the original law was signed. With the funding that was provided to the BLM last year, you suggested it would take another 20 years to complete the conveyances.
“Given that most of those people waiting for their conveyances will now have to wait 40 to 50 more years at this proposed funding level, I’m not only going to ask you to explain this choice here, today – I’m also going to ask you to come to Alaska and explain to the people who have waited patiently for so many years why they should now wait forty or fifty more.
“Secretary Salazar, you have certainly lived in interesting times since you became Secretary of the Interior. You have been presented with many difficult dilemmas. I know many of the members of this Committee share my concerns, so I look forward to hearing your side of the story and discussing these issues with you in greater detail.”
As permitted motorized events continue to be cancelled throughout the West because of exorbitant and unwarranted user fees, the Recreation HQ believes that it is important for access interests to remain engaged in the fight to protect our access rights. Recreationists should continue to work with Congress to challenge those excessive “cost recovery” fees.