Monday, June 20, 2011

Recreation Hot Topic at June 22 Congressional Hearing in Wash. DC

The Recreation HQ is very grateful for the opportunity to testify before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands on June 22, 2011. HQ will be joining a number of distinguished recreation representatives and experts.

Amador will be giving testimony in regards to the ongoing closure of the Clear Creek Management Area. He will be there on behalf of QWR and also be representing the BlueRibbon Coalition as its Western Representative.

There will be a live video feed at the hearing. You can link to it at the video icon on the left portion of the committee website.

House Natural Resources Committee with info on hearing and witness list

BRC Media Advisory

For those who want to read the written testimony with a list of exhibits, please check out the BRC website on Wednesday June 22, 2011 for a News Release with links to testimony and exhibits.

BRC Website

Also, feel free to check out the QWR blog where there is a copy of the invite letter to testify at the hearing.

QWR Blog with Invite Letter

Also, thanks to our good friends at SEMA for sending HQ a copy of a news article today about the hearing. It was written before Amador had been officially confirmed as a witness.

Energy and Environment Article with Quotes from Amador and FS

E&E: (06/20/2011)

PUBLIC LANDS: Lawmakers to explore recreational opportunities, controversies

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

The House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee on Wednesday will explore opportunities and controversies surrounding outdoor recreation on public lands, which include hundreds of millions of acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and Forest Service.

The hearing will consider recreational access to public lands and the economic benefits of activities such as hiking, fishing, hunting and off-highway vehicles including snowmobiles.

Visits to recreation sites on BLM-managed lands and waters have increased significantly in recent years, numbering well over 50 million in 2008, the agency said. But despite the increased popularity, controversies over management of the recreational opportunities persist.

Don Amador, Western representative for the Idaho-based BlueRibbon Coalition, which advocates for motorized trail access, said he is concerned a 2008 BLM decision to close access to the Clear Creek management area in California is based on flawed science.

"I'd like to question the decisionmaking behind that closure, I'd like to challenge the science that was used," said Amador, who was invited to testify but was not yet confirmed as a witness by publication time. "It's my hope that Congress will take a look at this."

He said he is also concerned with the Forest Service's 2005 travel management rule and argued it has been used to justify landscape-level closures to motorized recreation, particularly for dirt roads that have been in use for decades.

"Literally thousands of miles of those roads have been closed due to misapplication of the 2005 rule," he said.

The Forest Service manages approximately 280,000 miles of forested roads open to motor vehicle use, Joel Holtrop, deputy chief of the National Forest System, told a Senate panel in 2008. A third of the roads that are managed by the agency, or 47,000 miles, are open to motor vehicle use including over-snow vehicles and motorized watercraft operating on water trails, he said.

Conservation groups have warned that an unregulated rise in off-highway vehicles on public lands can imperil wildlife, destroy sensitive vegetation and cause erosion.

"The first motor vehicle driving across a particular meadow may not harm the land, but by the time 50 motor vehicles have crossed the same path a user-created trail will likely be left behind that causes lasting environmental impacts on soil, water quality and wildlife habitat," Holtrop told the Senate panel.

National forests and grasslands annually receive 192 million visits each year by motorized vehicle users as well as those who camp, hunt, fish, horseback ride, bike and ski, among other things.

About 11.5 million visits on national forests involve motorized vehicle activities, the agency said.

Schedule: The hearing is Wednesday, June 22, at 10 a.m. in 1324 Longworth.

Witnesses: TBA.

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Thanks to all for your service and support!

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