Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Donstradamus' Top Ten OHV Predictions for 2014



10- After watching Why We Ride, a nationally recognized conservationist embraces the concept of managed OHV recreation as a legitimate and important public use of federal land.

9- A group of Hollywood actors who ride off-road form a national non-profit foundation to help support and defend responsible OHV recreation.

8- The Forest Service adds a new classification of trails to travel management to address the growing use of SxS on public lands.  In fact, the agency starts to purchase said vehicles for official use by resource specialists, recreation staff, and law enforcement.

7- Hardcore 4x4 rock climbing enthusiasts discover the challenging aspects of the engineered class 5 obstacle courses at several California State Vehicular Recreation Areas.  An amateur competition series is developed and gets national acclaim.

6- East Bay Regional Park District changes its anti-OHV stance and sites an all-electric OHV park on the outskirts of Oakland.   The District offers this 15 acre unit as mitigation for their unsuccessful efforts to block OHV use on the Tesla property purchased in the mid-1990s with OHV Trust Fund monies for motorized recreation.

5- The internationally recognized animal expert and zoo curator, Jungle Jack Hanna, submits a proposal to the USFW Service to help them avoid listing the Greater Sage Grouse as a threatened species.   Hanna’s plan to build and operate 10 strategically located grouse breeding farms would enhance the grouse population.  The Service takes the proposal under advisement.  Congress reviews it as well.

4- This year marks the creation of the IronRider Race.  It is loosely based on the concept of the Ironman
competition where the event participant utilizes various sport modalities during the course of the race.
The IronRider is a 1,000 mile epic challenge.  It is divided into 10-segments of 100 miles for each of the following vehicle types.  Those specific motorized modalities are a dirt-bike, SxS, snowmobile, dual-sport, SUV, rock crawler, ATV, adventure bike, full-size 4x4 pickup, and electric OHV.

3- A motorsports enthusiast in a mid-West state sets a Guinness World Record for belonging to the most powersports-related organizations.   This person is a member of 115 local, state, regional, and national OHV groups.  The donor believes it is important to lead by example to show others that it is important to support those groups that defend responsible OHV use.

2- Tech guru invents heat-resistant micro-chip based sound reducer that when installed in a muffler will emit sound waves to cancel-out exhaust sound.   The product results in a new generation of light weight sound compliant mufflers.  

1- A new attorney – who is an avid OHV enthusiast – is hired by the Center for Biological Diversity.  She convinces CBD to reconsider its anti-OHV litigation strategy because it is unwarranted and counterproductive.  A “can’t we all just get along” motto is adopted at the Center.  The OHV community and many land managers hail this decision.



Bonus Prediction - A new reality TV series is launched called Trail Dynasty.  It is centered on the life and activities of a senior A enduro rider and his family.   It stars the A enduro rider, his wife, two sons, and one daughter.They also have two dogs and a cat.  It is nominated for an Emmy after just 5 episodes.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Recreation HQ is Closed for Christmas/New Years

The Recreation HQ is Closed between Dec. 21- Jan. 1 - We will reopen on Jan. 2.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the HQ!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Movie Review - Why We Ride - A Cinematic MRI of the People and Sport

Memories - Visiting with My Off-Road Hero, Malcolm Smith

After experiencing the new movie – Why We Ride – yesterday at its Sacramento debut, I did not get much sleep last night because I was so pumped up by the film and was looking forward to sharing my thoughts about it with you today.

Memories - Riding with my son, Jonathan, and his friend, Robby Edwards


I don’t want to give away too much of the movie.  However I can tell you that for us motorcyclists, the film explores, explains, and captures the very essence of what it means to be a member of the motorcycle family.  It takes the viewer on a journey through time.  From the sport’s humble beginnings where racers competed on wooden tracks in 1905 to family motorcycle campouts at OHV areas, the movie delves into the people of the sport.   It is cinematic MRI that unveils the passion we feel for the sport.

Memories - Riding with my wife, Ellen, last summer

Who should see this movie?

Motorcyclists – It is preaching to the choir.  Bring some Kleenex for those warm tears of joy and happiness.

Future Motorcyclists – It provides the elements needed to germinate that dormant “motorcycle gene” that might be part of your DNA.

Land Agencies – It is a must see for agency recreation staff, line officers, and specialists who are involved in managing OHV recreation.  It will help you understand the people who enjoy off-road motorcycles.

Stakeholder groups – For environmental organizations, conservation groups, outdoor industry, and media, it will help you better understand (and maybe even appreciate) the passion  we feel when riding on trails, carving canyons, touring, camping with the family, or participating in a permitted event.

Memories - Exploring the Backcountry

Here is a link to the movie trailer

Find out where it is playing and see it live (or get it for a club or org. viewing)


Memories - Cooling off after death trail ride in 113 degree heat

Please feel free to post a comment after you have seen the film.

Thanks,

Don







Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Santa Says Attend CARB/Red Sticker Meetings in Fresno and Diamond Bar



Before your Trail Santa can leave the Recreation HQ to deliver Christmas presents to the OHV community, he needs you to attend the CARB/Red Sticker Meetings next week in Fresno and Diamond Bar.

As many of you know, the CA Air Resources Board has started a 2 year project to review/analyze both the evaporative and exhaust emissions from the “Red Sticker” family of off-highway motorcycles.

I attended the 1st of three public scoping meetings that ARB is holding throughout the state.  There was solid representation in Sacramento from the MIC, OHV Division and Commission, and user groups. The next two meetings (with directions) are listed below:




Having worked through the 1997 red sticker debate/fight where the concept of a functional ban of 2-strokes was being considered by the regulators, I was pleasantly surprised by the collaborative and cooperative attitude of ARB staff.  They stated that a BAN as a solution is not being considered nor is it a goal. As a side note, several of them are avid motorcyclists.

ARB staff made it clear that they want to work with us (OEMs, aftermarket, dealers, user groups) in this review process with an end goal of presenting (Dec. 2015) the ARB board with some “common sense” proposals to address red sticker motorcycle emissions with a special focus on evaporative/diurnal emissions.

They are asking for our help via information as to red sticker usage, percentage of 2-strokes vs. 4 strokes, MX/closed course vs. amateur events on public lands, etc.  They are also looking for cost-effective and non-bulky engineering ideas such as small in-frame charcoal canisters, one way check valves, non-permeable plastics/tanks, etc. to address diurnal emissions.  ARB is also looking for suggestions related to their testing parameters.

They will also be analyzing the red sticker issue in a holistic manner by looking at new mitigating factors such as most ATVs now have stringent EPA-mandated emission controls, growing number of red sticker motorcycles that use fuel injection/closed fuel systems,  low emission 2-stroke oils, etc.

ARB staff is also interested in the current economic state (i.e. sales) of red-sticker motorcycles and related industry. Could new regulations kill production of youth motorcycles?  I think it will be important for them to hear from dealers and others on this particular issue.  It seems they are under the impression that off-road motorcycle sales are going gangbusters when just the opposite may be true.

Although this project is mostly focused on analyzing red sticker motorcycles, they plan to test some green sticker motorcycles as a control group.  These initial scoping meetings are just the beginning of the process and I strongly encourage red sticker-related stakeholders to get engaged with this process.  It is a rare item for a regulatory agency to undertake this sort of user-friendly approach.

The proof will be in the pudding (or gas tank in our case) on just how collaborative this process will be.  But for now, we should get engaged and offer our ideas/solutions related to the red sticker program/vehicles. 


Merry Christmas,

Your Trail Santa

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving is a State of Mind


I believe that “Thanksgiving” is a state of mind.  Sure, a lot of us are experiencing some trying times in our personal lives, but that is the way it is and always has been.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I hope that we reflect on, and draw inspiration from, those people in our lives and our experiences (on the trail, at work, and at home) that have helped shape who we are.

Thanks to all of my friends, family, colleagues, and even detractors who have helped shape who I am.  Your impact on my life is a highly valued treasure that cannot be bought at any price.  And for that, I am truly thankful.   Thanksgiving Day is a reminder that we should be thankful for every day that we are blessed to interact with those people and activities that influence our life.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gridlock Impacts Post-Rim Fire Federal Land Management

Recent Controlled Burn on the Mendocino NF

Having both played and worked in timber country (Humboldt County -circa early/mid 1970s), I have a strong appreciation for well-managed private and federal forest lands.  That support has only deepened over the last 24 years based on my current career as an advocate for sustainable recreational opportunities which are dependent on healthy forests.

Many of us watched as the 2012 82K acre Mill Fire burned out the core trail network at the Stonyford OHV Area on the Mendocino National Forest.   That fire closed the area to all public access – including both casual and permitted OHV activity- for one year.  For any number of reasons (planning gridlock, fear of environmental lawsuits, appeals, burdensome regulations, etc.) the Forest Service was not able to get the salvage sale out in a timely manner and any merchantable trees were destroyed by the bark beetle.

Pre-Fire Fuels/Timber Project

Today as over 200 logging trucks per day haul salvage trees off of private timber lands damaged by the 2013 257K acre Rim Fire that burned in the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and other lands, not one logging truck has hauled a load from NF lands. The agency appears to be jammed up by the same political, legal, and regulatory planning-noose that plagued the Mill Fire.

Article on the Rim Fire Planning Jam

In an effort to become part of a potential solution to this stalemate,  I proudly answered the call to represent recreation on the Mendocino National Forest’s Firescape Collaborative.  This is part of the Fire Learning Network’s effort to bring diverse stakeholders together to see if we can agree on some forest health projects that can protect both the resource and other related interests such as private property owners, recreationists, and local businesses.

Example of Shaded Fuel Break Project 

Fire Learning Network

I don’t have the answer to the aforementioned planning and project gridlock.  However, it is clear to me the current paradigm is not acceptable.  Prescribed fire has been used for thousands of years to manage timber lands and must be introduced back into the environmental equation.  I believe it is also important to reintroduce both pre and post-fire timber harvest into the planning mix. 

Trail/Resource Impacts from 2012 Mill Fire

Healthy forests and vibrant local economies are concepts that should be supported by both sides of the land-use debate.  Gridlock serves neither.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Huge Turnout of OHVers for Carnegie SVRA/Tesla Public Meeting

Big Turnout of OHVers to Support Carnegie SVRA/Tesla

The Recreation HQ wants to commend all of the OHVers who attended the “standing room only” public meeting in Pleasanton last night to review the preferred concept for the Tesla property at Carnegie SVRA.  I did a head count and there were approximately 300 people in attendance with the vast majority of them in support of OHV use on Tesla.

Park Staff Talks with OHVers About Plan

As you know, a small number of hard-core anti-OHV members of the extreme environmental movement (including one of the SVRA’s next door neighbors) have conspired with the East Bay Regional Park District -- in a fraudulent disinformation campaign -- to ban OHV use on the Tesla property that was purchased in the 1990s with OHV Trust Fund monies for dedicated motorized use.  They had joined with the Sierra Club to try and overrun the event with protesters, but they were outnumbered 6 or 7 to 1.

Preferred Concept Highlighted by Planning Staff

This much needed expansion would provide multiple-use OHV trails (ATV, ROV, 4WD, and dirt-bike) on the new property.   The current 1,500 acre riding area at the SVRA would remain for mostly ATV and dirt-bike riding.

Tesla Will Provide Trails for ROVs

4WDs Will Also Have Trails at Tesla

I especially enjoyed seeing a large number of youth riders who attended the meeting with their parents to support new OHV opportunities on the Tesla site.

Chris Carter Talks with AMA- D36's Dave Pickett About the Project

HQ also wants to give a shout out to Chris Carter and his leadership team at Motion Pro for attending the meeting in support of the project.  Chris continues to be an inspiration to me and many other land-use advocates because of his over 30 years of unparalleled support for the fight.


HQ will be reviewing the preferred concept (which appears to be a good compromise between OHV access and resource protection) and will share our comments on the proposal in the next week or two.  I will work with BRC’s HQ on an alert that may help you in crafting your own comments in time to meet the December 13, 2013 public comment deadline.

Link to Carnegie SVRA General Plan Preferred Concept

Thanks again to all of you who took time out of your busy schedule to attend the meeting!


PS - If you would like to support BRC's effort to challenge the closure agenda of anti-OHV interests at Carnegie and elsewhere -  please join and/or donate today at the link below:
https://www.sharetrails.org/support/join-or-contribute



Sunday, November 10, 2013

MUST READ BOOK REVIEW ON FOREST SERVICE CONSENT DECREE - The Tinder Box


For resource and recreation professionals, understanding the agency you work for or with is critical.  That knowledge will make you more effective.  As an OHV recreation consultant who often works with federal and state land management agencies, I want to share my thoughts on one of the most eye-opening works of agency-related literature that I have read in recent years.

Written by Christopher Burchfield, The Tinder Box, chronicles how the Forest Service (with a special focus on Region 5) became host to one of the largest court-ordered social experiments in modern times.

The Tinder Box at Amazon.com


The book details the 1970s era ramp up to the July 1, 1981 Consent Decree.  The Order by Nixon-appointee Judge Samuel Conti directed the Forest Service to implement an unprecedented gender parity hiring program.

The purpose of this review is not to champion or assail the merits of the Decree, but to note how the historic Gifford Pinchot-inspired agency mission of forest and resource management was shifted to creation of a Decree-specific bureaucracy.

The Tinder Box describes how this process evolved in early 1970s and continues on to this day with either overt, covert, and/or tacit support from Congress and over 6 presidential administrations.

Although I take umbrage with the author’s occasional disparaging comments about OHV recreation, his research does seem to substantiate what I have heard from agency employees over the last 23 years on how the Decree has contributed to agency dysfunction and lack of morale.

There are many characters in the book some of which I have worked with or talked to.  Just a few folks mentioned are Max Peterson, Ann Veneman, Dale Robertson, Jack Troyer, Matt Mathes, Jack Blackwell, Jim Lyons, Mike Espy, Wally Herger, Dave Meurer, Jeff Applegate, Lynn Sprague, Corky Lazzarno, Ken Wolstenhom, Mary Coloumbe, Dan Chisholm, John Mica, Ron Stewart, Bob Grate, Robert Tyrell, Doug Leisz, Jack Ward Thomas, and Mike Dombeck.

You will also become familiar with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Maupin White Paper, Bernardi Consent Decree, Male Class Complaint, Thirtymile Fire, the 43%, and the Blue Book.

Given the impact of 40 years’ worth of Decree-inspired litigation and policies combined with an endless avalanche of environmental lawsuits, it is amazing that agency staff today are even able to sign an OHV event permit, complete a travel plan, construct a trail, or produce a map.

This is a must read for Forest Service employees (new hires, current, or retired) private sector recreation and resource professionals, congressional staff, grassroots leaders, and sister agency employees.

After reading this book, you will have a clearer understanding of the Forest Service and a better appreciation for the men and women who continue their efforts – despite the challenges - to serve the public and care for the land.


--- Don Amador

PS - Set aside a good block of time, since you won't want to stop reading it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

National Debate - Active (BLM) v. Passive Recreation (NPS)



The statement by former Secretary of the Interior, Gayle Norton, struck a chord here at the Recreation HQ.   As the current Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, advocates for more lands to be set aside as National Parks or under some other preservation-oriented designation,   Norton highlights what many federal and state land managers are seeing and that is the public’s interest in “active recreation.”


Norton who served under President George W. Bush was quoted in an Energy and Environment article today where she commented on protective land designations for passive use or non-entry… That doesn't necessarily mean protection under the National Park Service. Other agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, also are entrusted with conserving nationally important land… the "full spectrum" of public lands should be considered in any discussion on how to solve the Park Service's budget shortfall while ensuring land is preserved.

For example, some lands might do better under BLM, which spends less per acre of conserved land, she said. People today want to see active recreation. They like the mountain bikes. They like ATVs. They want to bring their dogs along. They want to travel off into areas that are not as populated…Those are all available on BLM lands and not in national parks.

This will be an interesting discussion to watch as federal and state government officials (elected and appointed) review current and potential recreational opportunities on park lands through the prism of declining budgets and growing maintenance backlogs.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Post Rim Fire Trail Work Update on Stanislaus NF/Hull Creek OHV Area

Post Rim Fire Trail Work on Stanislaus National Forest

With winter rains approaching in the next few weeks, QWR wants to commend agency staff on the Stanislaus National Forest for their work to stabilize or stormproof motorized routes in the Hull Creek OHV Area that were impacted by the Rim Fire.

According to an October 21, 2013 update from the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program, implementation is well underway ahead of the rainy season and assessment of additional needs is ongoing. Emergency response actions being taken include falling hazard trees near roads trails and campgrounds; improving and stormproofing roads to restore drainage; repairing and constructing rolling dips (drivable dips that remove water off the road); stabilizing and repairing trails; installing public warning signs gates and barricades for public safety; applying mulch and chipping woody material to protect exposed soil; and protecting cultural and natural resources.

Example of Rolling Dip

The BAER program also stated that while these treatments will help to reduce post-fire effects it must be recognized that not all effects can be mitigated and potential threats to life and property remain during runoff events. The projects underway are listed below.

Roads/Trails:
Restoring drainage - 61% complete:
Clean the ditches and culverts
Pull floatable debris from uphill of the culverts
Water bars – helps with the drainage of water and
grading the road.

Rolling dips: (repair and construct) - 13% complete

Trails:
Erosion control measure - 46% complete
Trail stabilization - 100% complete
Hazard tree mitigation - 100% complete
Install route markers - 100% complete
Install public warning signs gates and barricades

Protection/Safety:
Hazard tree mitigation - 94% complete along priority roads.
Cultural resource protection: erosion control measures are 69% complete and hazard tree mitigation is 100% complete.

QWR again wants to commend agency staff on the Stanislaus National Forest for their work to stabilize motorized trails that are so important to the OHV community.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Budget Deal Today!? - Let's Get OHV Areas Reopened and Permit Upcoming Events




After watching the Congressional hearing this am regarding the NPS’s implementation of shutdown –related closures and based on breaking news in D.C., HQ believes that a short-term budget deal will be reached today and signed into law by President Obama.

 
Politico Article on Potential Deal
http://www.politico.com/politico44/2013/10/white-house-there-are-no-winners-here-175216.html

 

One of the hearing’s prime takeaways is the glaring need to reform the Anti-Deficiency Act.  It is clearly out-of-date and has been used as an excuse to furlough federal land management staff that many of us feel are “essential personnel.”   Since Congress passed legislation early in the shutdown to pay the furloughed employees, they should have either amended that Act  to allow those employees to work during the shutdown or declare federal recreation staff as essential personnel.

 
HQ urges FS and BLM staff to please communicate with the public ASAP regarding the reopening of federal campgrounds, recreation areas, and the granting of permits for upcoming OHV events.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Shutdown at DOJ Impacts OHV-related Lawsuits!



The Recreation HQ is concerned that OHV-related lawsuits and related management actions could be overlooked victims of the government shutdown.

 
Sequestration had already reduced the number of Department of Justice attorneys that work on resource and recreation legal issues.  There are many unfilled judicial appointments from even before the current belt-tightening further burdened our judicial system.  Criminal cases take priority. The shutdown has prevented DOJ lawyers from appearing or even talking to their agency clients.  District courts are already been focusing their limited resources toward cases with available lawyers and parties, meaning that cases involving federal issues are all ready losing their spots on the docket.
 
When the shutdown is presumably resolved, pro-recreation interests will face new challenges, as we are hearing indications that limited resources in DC and the field will affect the degree to which the federal government will strongly defend Forest Service OHV travel management decisions, or be able to address court-ordered remands or other necessary management actions.

 
To give some perspective, the cases involving the BRC Legal Team include 15 deadlines or hearings between now and the first week of December, including two 9th Circuit arguments.  These hearings are in the process of being extended or vacated as the uncertainty develops.  When the shutdown is resolved, DOJ lawyers will be scrambling to address the backlog that continues to pile up while they are prohibited from working.  The inability to resolve these cases potentially affects not only resolution of long-running cases but on-the-ground recreation options in areas including the Stanislaus, Eldorado, Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Clearwater, Custer, San Juan and Pike and San Isabel National Forests, as well as the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (Glamis).
 

In short, every day the shutdown continues, OHV-related cases could suffer the long-term consequences of reductions in and redirected priorities for DOJ staff and other federal employees.

 


Friday, October 4, 2013

Govt. Shutdown Update - Intransigence, tickets, and sour grapes

Closed FS Staging Area at OR Dunes NRA
 
As outdoor recreationists prepare to access federal lands on the shutdown’s first weekend, they will be met with a confusing array of closure signs and inconsistent messages/enforcement.  There are several articles that highlight the raw politics of the shutdown or detail the economic impact to the local community.
 
Washington Examiner Article about the Raw Politics of the Shutdown
 
Coos County The World Article on Local Impacts
 
Adrenaline ATV/SXS Online Interview with Amador
 
It appears the Forest Service has closed almost all of their gated campgrounds and staging areas including those managed by concessioners.  
 
This FS Campground is Closed at the OR Dunes NRA
 
However, the Forest Service has stated the public can use areas and trails providing they use legal private or non-closed access points.  At the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, users can access the riding areas via access points that exist at various KOA campgrounds or Coos County’s Riley Ranch OHV Park.
 
KOA Campground with Legal Access to the OR Dunes NRA
 
According to reports the BLM has gated/closed the Sand Mountain Recreation Area in Nevada.
 
 

Sand Mountain Recreation Area Closed in Nevada
 
 The BLM's Samoa Dunes Recreation Area and Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County, California are closed.  BLM rangers are issuing tickets to ATVers who bypass the gate.  However, the rangers have said that if you can find a legal access point that you can ride at Samoa Dunes. 
 
BLM's Samoa Recreation Area - One of Only Two Legal
Oceanside OHV Riding Areas in California
Photo credit: Lost Coast 4x4 Club
 
 
Strangely, the nearby Mike Thompson Federal Refuge remains open at time of this posting. 
 
The Mike Thompson Refuge is Open???
 
ATVers Enjoy Samoa Dunes OHV Recreation (or at least they used too)
 
Riders have said the BLM’s Glamis Dunes in Southern California are open for riding since that area has a lot of public access points.
 
HQ believes that the administration could have found a way to keep a lot of areas open using left over appropriated funds or working with private sector or local governments.   Be assured, we will continue to monitor the shutdown’s impact on the recreation community.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Govt. Shutdown Causes Cancelled Off-Road Events and Reduces Access

Watch for "Closed" Signs at Developed Campgrounds
 
The Recreation HQ has been contacting various federal land managers today regarding the government shutdown’s impact to OHV recreation.
Already, an AMA sanctioned motorcycle event on BLM lands has been cancelled.  On another unit, a scheduled cleanup day sponsored by OHV enthusiasts for this upcoming weekend has been cancelled.
HQ expects that “closed to the public” signs will be put up over the next few days at the entrance to many, if not most, developed campgrounds on FS and BLM lands.  Some units will also post closed signs on the trails.
 
Closure Sign at OR Dunes NRA near Florence
*Photo credit: Save the Riders Dunes
 
Deer hunting season is in full swing right now and that user group will be impacted by the closure of some facilities.  Hunters may find it difficult to get their deer tags signed by FS or BLM recreation staff since those non-essential personnel have been furloughed.
HQ urges all outdoor recreationists to be aware that reduced access to public lands has become a reality in the budget fight.

Monday, September 30, 2013

D.C. Budget Fight Could Impact OHV Recreation




As the threat of a government shutdown looms at midnight tonight, HQ is concerned that OHV recreation (especially permitted events) could be an unintended victim in this fight.

While many, if not most, national parks are expected to be closed, HQ believes it is unclear just what will happen at OHV areas managed by the Forest Service and BLM. 

There are many federal OHV riding areas  that could be impacted. At developed sites, will garbage be picked up?  Will the bathrooms be cleaned?  Will there be resource protection or law enforcement officers patrolling the unit?  Will there be recreation staff available to answer questions or hand out a map?  On units funded by state OHV grants, will those dedicated monies be used to keep an area open during the shutdown?

HQ does not believe the FS or BLM will barricade county or state roads that enter public lands, but this could result in the agencies cancelling any permitted OHV events that are scheduled during the shutdown.

Stay tuned as the budget battle continues in D.C.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

OR Dunes Update -Major Dune Work Party - Sept. 21/22, 2013



The Recreation HQ wants to commend the Save the Riders Dunes organization for becoming an effective local force for protecting OHV recreation at, and promoting responsible resource management of, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area in Oregon.

HQ's Don Amador on 2011 Dune Tour
 
 

Some of you remember our 2011 CORDRAM Tour up the Oregon Dunes to review important recreation and resource issues with local riders and the Forest Service.   Those tours included all three major riding areas, visiting with local OHV-related businesses, talking with county officials, and a one day field trip with the Forest Supervisor.

 

Blog on 2011 CORDRAM Tour 


 

This effort has led to a substantive change of direction in the travel planning process.  The initial FS travel planning had no tenets to address the real danger to the dunes and that is destruction of the dunes by non-native vegetation.  Today the FS and users are working together on a resource project as cited below.


STRD Members ID Popular Riding Area on 2011 Tour
 

 

This weekend on Sept 21-22, 2013, STRD and US Forest Service are coordinating the start of the Oregon Dunes Restoration Project.  They are asking interested parties in the area to join them at Bullrun Staging Area, North Bend at 10am.  They are asking you to bring your work gloves and digging tools!
 
For more information on this weekend's project contact the event lead; Jody Phillips at
 

 
Kiosk at OR Dunes


This is a good case study of what happens when OHV recreationists organize and engage the agency and other user groups in the management of an area.   HQ salutes STRD for their effective advocacy and dedication to protect the sport and also champion responsible resource management.

 

STRD Website
http://www.savetheridersdunes.com/About-Us.html

 

Again, this story highlights the importance of OHV recreationists being engaged at a landscape level with the agency, county, green groups, businesses, and other user organizations. 

 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eldorado SEIS Appeal Resolution - Enviros Get Another Bite at the Apple

One of the "18" Closed Routes - The "Mud Lake" Trail
 
 

 On September 11, 2013 the Eldorado NF reached an appeals resolution with appellants of the June 14, 2013 SEIS and Record of Decision that would have immediately reopened 24 of the “42 meadow routes”  and opened another 18 routes after corrective action (mitigation, such as hardening a meadow crossing, fixing drainage, etc.) was taken.

 
Copy of Agreement
http://www.peer.org/assets/docs/ca/9_16_13_Final_Eldorado.pdf
 

List of the 24 open routes and 18 closed routes
http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5435815.pdf
 

FS News Release on Agreement
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/eldorado/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5435834
 

Those corrective actions could range from a couple of hours of work with a pick and shovel to project-level NEPA efforts that might include a significant reroute or even installation of an OHV bridge.


HQ is still reviewing the resolution agreement, but it appears that environmental groups have managed to create an extra layer of red-tape by requiring the agency to allow them early review of any proposed   meadow project for those 18 routes.
 

The goal of many anti-OHV groups is to create an additional planning hurdle that must be crossed by the agency before that project can be developed.  It appears that goal has achieved in the resolution by creating a new modified NEPA process where those groups can gum up the project before it even gets off the ground.

Although the anti-OHV groups have succeeded in gaining some leverage in mitigation planning for those 18 routes, HQ believes that user groups should hold the agency’s feet to the fire by working hard to effect the Forest Supervisor’s promise to “get on with repairing the other 18 routes.”
 

Stayed tuned on this never ending saga.

 

 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

NV Sage Grouse Update - OHV Concerns noted by State Grouse Council at Carson City Meeting

Don Amador Riding in Pine Nuts
*Area Noted as a High Value Sage Habitat Reserve
 
The Recreation HQ wanted to give OHVers and racers who ride in Nevada a quick update on today’s meeting of the Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Council in Carson City, Nevada.
 
As some of you know,  this State of Nevada effort is running concurrently with two other federal Greater Sage-grouse planning efforts.  
 

BRC remains concerned about the fact that motorized recreation was not afforded a seat on the council.  As you will see in BRC’s comment letter today, we reaffirmed that concern and noted our OHV casual use and permitted event-related comments submitted to the council in May 2013 had not been addressed in any of the staff reviews and/or related reports.
 
BRC Sept. 12, 2013 Comment Letter to the Council
 
While watching the meeting on a live video stream, it was gratifying to note that BRC’s comment letter today was referenced several times by agency staff and council members as providing important information regarding OHV use that had not been considered as of yet.
 
While the FS representative basically stated he did not anticipate significant impacts to existing OHV use on designated trails and areas, I continue to be concerned about unintended consequences to OHV recreation if we are not actively engaged on all three processes.
 
You can find meeting schedules and other info at the websites below:
 
ONE – State of NV
 
NV Sagebrush Ecosystem Council
 
NV Sagebrush Ecosystem Council Meetings/Documents
 
TWO – Forest Service
 
Humboldt-Toiyabe NF Bi-State Greater Sage-grouse Forest Plan (be sure and click on DEIS link)
 
THREE - BLM
BLM Greater Sage-grouse Conservation Planning Effort
 
BRC Greater Sage-grouse home page with updates, etc.
 
HQ wants to encourage NV OHVers to try and be engaged in these processes.  I will be up at the Ride Reno 200 DS Ride this weekend so feel free to stop by and visit me at the BRC booth on Friday night or catch me at the Sat. night dinner.

Monday, September 9, 2013

BREAKING NEWS - OHV Division Weighs in on East Bay Park District Tesla Vote

 



Many S.F. Bay Area fans of Carnegie SVRA have been following the ongoing and often quite nasty saga regarding East Bay Regional Park District’s attempt to ban future OHV recreation on the Tesla property.

As you know,  I attended and spoke at the July 16, 2013 District meeting where BRC challenged the park board vote to approve the master plan's effort to obtain the Tesla property at some future date.
 

Link to BRC story on July 16, 2013 District Vote
http://www.sharetrails.org/news/2013/07/17/bay-area-park-board-votes-block-motorized-recreation-ohv-park
 

HQ got a call today from a reporter who wanted my comments on an August 21, 2013 letter from the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division to the District.  I told the reporter if he wanted my comments in time for an upcoming article that I would need a copy of the letter.  The reporter sent me the letter.
 

After receiving the letter below from the reporter, I asked myself the question, ”How did this reporter get a copy of the letter since it had only been sent to government officials?”  It appears that some official in the District leaked the document to the media or some environmental group in order to generate more controversy.
 

If the District did leak this letter, I feel it shows a lack of professionalism and good taste.  Rather than reflecting well on the District, this communication appears to show discord and a lack of respect for the public and the law.

 
OHMVRD Aug. 21, 2013 Letter to East Bay Regional Park District
http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/Tesla_letter_from_Parks_Dept_08.21.13.pdf


It will be interesting to see how the media covers this story and if they will give OHV a fair shake.  Thanks for your interest and support on this important issue.
 
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Breaking OHV News Update - CA Stays in RTP and FS Issues New Recreation Visitor Report


CA RTP

According to the September 6, 2013 edition of Federal Parks and Recreation, the States of California, Maine and Kansas - at one time questionable participants in the fiscal year 2014 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) - all enrolled this week.  The 2014 program actually begins October 1.  Only Florida opted out.

 
Earlier this year, the State of California stated it would opt out of the $85 million per year program.  Those monies are generated by off-road federal fuel taxes.  HQ believes that a large grassroots effort helped persuade state officials to change their minds and stay in the program.
 
NEW FS VISITOR REPORT

The Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Forest Service are released a report that highlights the growing number of visitors to the national forests.   The report (FY 2008-2012) stated that approximately 161 million users visited agency lands.  That number is up slightly from the 159 million visitors in FY-2007-2011.


New U.S. Forest Service Visitor Report
http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/nvum/2012%20National_Summary_Report_061413.pdf


The report stated that visitors who live more than 50 miles from the forest account for the bulk of these contributions and they spend about $5 billion annually.  The forest visitor spending contributes about $13 billion to U.S economy.

 
Motorized users were cast into three categories: OHV use, motorized trail activity, and driving for pleasure.  HQ believes this report shows that motorized recreation or motorized access to non-motorized activities continues to be important elements of the recreation opportunity spectrum on federal lands.

 

HQ believes that an increasing number of those 300 million visitors “driving for pleasure” in or near forest lands includes adventure bike enthusiasts.

FLREA - Use Fees


Currently the Forest Service and BLM can charge fees under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).   

 
With FLREA scheduled to expire on Dec. 8, 2014, the House subcommittee on Interior appropriations voted on July 23 to approve a one-year extension.  The extension would run through Dec. 8, 2015.
 

This will be a very busy two months for OHV professionals as Congress votes on trail-related appropriations, holds hearings on proposed OHV bills, and hopefully approves several OHV-related bills that are before them including H.R. 1776, the Clear Creek National Recreation Area Act and Congressman Cook’s Johnson Valley National OHV Recreation Area Act.
 
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