Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Court Says NO to Enviro Subpart A Claims on Eldorado Legal Case

The General on the Eldorado NF

The Recreation HQ wanted to share the good news about a court decision last week regarding the lawsuit filed by environmental groups against the Eldorado National Forest’s Travel Management Plan.

BRC May 31, 2011 News Release on Recent Court Decision

Link to 82 Page Court Decision (a real good read)

Some of you may remember that BRC and other recreation groups filed to intervene in the case in January 2010.

BRC January 2010 News Release with Motion to Intervene

The recreation groups had concerns that environmentalists would use this case to get a court to link a dollar amount needed by the agency to maintain a “minimum” number of trail miles on the unit. Even though OHV groups did not like the 2008 Eldorado travel plan we wanted to end the endless planning process and move forward with good management programs.

HQ feels that environmental groups are filling an avalanche of Subpart A lawsuits throughout the West to force a number on the agency and/or to require the agency to undergo Subpart A planning to establish a “minimum” route network before doing the Subpart B trail planning.

By using an “oil change” analogy (page 36), HQ believes the court rejected that argument when it denied the plaintiffs (enviro groups) their Subpart A claims.

HQ believes CBD issued a less than accurate news release last week by intimating the court cast aside the 2008 travel plan.

CBD News Release

In fact, no remedy has been determined and the decision has asked the parties to address how much of a "remedy" is warranted for technical violations involving such small areas. HQ, on counsel's advice, prefers to leave it at that. We believe it unwise to characterize a court decision that has not yet been made.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Street Legal OHVs Gain Access into AZ Wildlife Refuge

HQ wants to salute the efforts of the AMA and BRC for their work to gain access for street-legal motorcycles and ATVs into the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

Historically, the refuge has banned the use of street legal motorcycles and ATVs on a number of its roads that are open for 4x4 use. Thanks to a collaborative effort by my good friends, Nick Haris, and, Brian Hawthorne, they persuaded the unit manager that the area’s management plan did allow for the use of street legal motorcycles and ATVs on several of its roads.

Article on Road Opened for Street Legal OHVs

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

In this day and age of closures, it is nice to focus on something positive. Kudos again to Nick and Brian on this effort, and to the unit’s manager for being willing to review the issue and then make a decision.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

BRC/National Group's Comment Letter on Johnson Valley DEIS

By now a lot of riders and wheelers know about the Marine Corps’ proposal to expand into the Johnson Valley OHV Area. In fact, a lot of you have already sent in comment letters and attended meetings.

On May 19, 2011, BRC sent in its official comment letter on the Corps’ DEIS. For a copy of that letter … please go to the BRC News Release below.

May 23, 2011 BRC News Release on Johnson Valley with BRC Comment Letter

After talking with a number of active and retired service members including Marines and a Vietnam-era Green Beret, I am now more firmly convinced then ever that the ill-conceived plan was not based on a strategic military “need” but rather it appears to be based on the personal agenda of several high-ranking military officials.

Not once in the original scoping document or in the DEIS did the Corps justify the “need” to boot the OHV community out of Johnson Valley.

I would encourage those of you to read the BRC comment letter and consider sending in a letter of your own before the May 26 deadline.

Here is info from an ARRA Email Alert (with suggested comments)

All DEIS Alternatives Would Restrict Access

As you have no doubt heard by now, the United States Marines are seeking to establish a large-scale training range facility at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California. To this end a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has been released. Comments will be accepted until Thursday, May 26th.

The DEIS analyzes 6 alternatives for potential impacts to land use, recreation, public health and safety, air quality, noise, biological resources, cultural resources, geological resources, water resources and other resources. The preferred alternative is alternative 6.

Unfortunately, any of the proposed alternatives, including the Marines’ preferred alternative, will ultimately result in the loss of OHV access and possibly a complete closure of the Johnson Valley OHV area.

Please review the DEIS and submit comments by filling in the attached webform found here. You can cut-and-paste the following or insert your own comments. Either way it is imperative that you weigh in before the comment period closes on May 26!


DEIS Comment Link

Suggested Comments:

As an off-highway vehicle enthusiast I write to urge you to support the “no action” alternative in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement - Land Acquisition and Airspace Establishment To Support Large-Scale Marine Air Ground Task Force Live Fire and Maneuver Training. I recognize that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) notes that no action “...is not a viable alternative since it does not meet the purpose and need…” However, none of the 6 proposed alternatives, including preferred alternative 6, adequately address all issues including providing for recreation, particularly motorized recreation.

Local riders, and many from adjoining regions, have been pushed off of public lands and out of many areas of the desert for decades. While I understand that the Marines have a vital mission, there simply must be a better way to provide for adequate training while not essentially eliminating responsible access to Johnson Valley for motorized recreationists.

I encourage you to withdraw the DEIS in favor of developing a new DEIS with a broadened range of alternatives that include options that allow for the continued responsible use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs), and that recognize the vital economic impact that motorized recreation has in the area.

Also, here is a link to a BRC JV Alert


HQ believes in and supports our military. However, HQ does not believe that our military should be exempted from following the good government standards set in place for other agencies such as the Forest Service and BLM.

Thanks in advance for your continued support!!!
****PS May 24 Article on Commission JV Tour

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monuments FOIA Update - Did Green Lobby Influence Treasured Lands Program in 2009?

Designated OHV Trail in Stonyford Monument

As many of you remember, HQ, BRC, Congress, and other access interests had concerns in 2010 about the now infamous leaked DOI documents regarding its “Treasured Landscapes Initiative” that proposed to designate National Monuments throughout the West.

Article on TLI and Monuments

Based on those concerns that the proposal had been cooked up behind the scenes in smoke-filled backrooms with environmental groups, Don Amador, on behalf of BRC, filed a FOIA in February 2010 to see if those concerns were valid. That initial FOIA saga was filled with FOIA denials and appeals.

2010 FOIA Saga and Shell Game

Then in June of 2010, Amador filed another FOIA to again try and ferret out any back door deals. Finally on Friday, May 13, 2011 (almost one year later), the BLM complied in part with the FOIA request. Under provisions of the “Deliberative Process Privilege of Exemption 5 of FOIA,” DOI/BLM redacted portions of the 405 pages of released documents. But, DOI withheld 2,016 pages of documents from the FOIA.

HQ has done an initial review and found that most if not all of the info was NOT relevant to the FOIA request. Our search was for evidence of where the agency had collaborated with environmental groups in 2009 while failing to include other publics and Congress in those discussions. No documents were provided that showed such enviro collaboration. Remember it was the agency’s narrative at the time that assured the public the plan was not unfairly influenced by the green lobby.

However, one email (dated 11/9/09) did reference a letter outlining thoughts from The Wilderness Society related to Salazar’s Treasured Lands Initiative.

Link to 11/9/09 Email in FOIA Response

May 2011 DOI Partial Response to BRC FOIA

Did anybody really think the agency developed this plan in a vacuum without direct input from the green lobby? Don’t be ridiculous! It looks like the FOIA shell game continues because another FOIA appeal will have to be filed seeking a copy of the referenced TWS input.

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Cuts to CA OHV Program? -- May Revise Today

As HQ and OHVers brace for the release of the Governor’s May Revise today at 11 am, it will be important to watch for proposed tax increases and cuts to the CA OHV Program.

May 16 AP Article on May Revise and Budget

It will be interesting to see just how big the cuts will be to the OHV Program. My fear (which I hope is not realized, but is based on Feb. budget battle) is that we could see a proposed cut of at least 50% to the $64 million dollar a year program (SVRAs, admin. and grants). That would cut the grants program from about $27 million dollars/yr. to approx. $13 million dollars. A similar size cut to the admin/SVRA side would result in impacts to SVRAs and the agency’s ability to administer the grants program and OSV program.

Review/Blog of Feb. OHV Budget Fight (Alert because the entire program was at risk)

Of interest are the “triggers” included in some of the past loans taken (stolen) from the OHV Trust Fund that basically states -- "if budget cuts seriously impact the OHV program the borrowed funds have to be returned immediately to the Trust Fund."

HQ does not know just how solid those triggers are since the legislature can invent new rules as they see fit by simply writing a new law that exempts them from past promises.

Stay tuned over the summer months, as the temperature is sure to rise both outside and inside of the State Capitol.

Friday, May 13, 2011

70 State Park Units to Close in 2012?

Official Quiet Warrior Land Use Battle SUV

Today HQ reviewed the long-awaited list of 70 proposed state park units that are slated for closure in 2012 pending the outcome of the current budget battle. No SVRAs appear to be on the list. There are about 272 state park units, 8 of which are SVRAs.

Article with list of proposed closures

HQ has urged state park leadership to make state parks relevant to the public as a way to bolster visitation and enhance revenues. HQ believes that some non-motorized park units (i.e. Henry Coe in the S. Bay Area, etc.) would make a great addition to the 8 existing SVRAs. Closure does not have to be the only option.

So far it does not look like any SVRAs are on that list as of today. OHV leadership (including The General) will have to keep a sharp eye on the state budget battle, as things are sure to get real ugly over the summer.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Time for Congress to Designate a National OHV Appreciation Day?

An OHV enthusiast (who is also a boater) contacted HQ recently and asked why OHV enthusiasts don’t have their own “National OHV Appreciation Day?”

July 1 Designated as National Boating Day (S. 199 and H.R. 505)

HQ believes that OHV recreationists are in a unique position politically given the current make-up of Congress combined with the President’s Great Outdoor Initiative to ask legislators to honor OHV recreation with its own day.

According to a 2005 Forest Service Report on OHV Recreation, 23.8 percent of the American population (age 16 or older) participated one or more times in OHV recreation during the last year (of the report).

2005 FS OHV Recreation Report

HQ believes that major OHV recreation organizations and industry groups could get behind a collaborative effort to have Congress designate an appropriate date as our own “National OHV Appreciation Day.”

Sure it will take some work, but here at HQ we feel that the time has come for OHV recreation to be recognized by Congress and the President as an important facet of the outdoor recreation spectrum.

Please take the poll on this issue as well. Let us know if you would be interested in supporting or sponsoring this effort.

Private comments can be sent to: damador@quietwarriorracing.com

Thursday, May 5, 2011

SEND LETTER TODAY to Keep JV Open - Use BRC Alert with Comments and Overview

Let's Keep This From Being the Future for JV

HQ wanted to make sure riders knew that BRC just sent out an action alert today (with suggested comments) asking you to send in comments regarding the Marines at 29 Palms DEIS.

New BRC Alert with Suggested Comments and Overview

Since all land-use decisions are political decisions (an axiom here at HQ) including the proposal by Marine leadership to give OHV the boot from Johnson Valley, HQ is urging that you send a copy of your comments to your elected officials. Remember that Congress must review and approve the project AFTER the planning process is complete.

Here is a link where you can find those elected federal officials

It only takes a few minutes to cut-n-paste in some suggested comments and/or add a few personal comments of your own. HQ already used info on the alert and sent in comments to the Corps and elected Members of Congress.

Please make sure that this info gets forwarded to your OHV network. Thanks in advance for your efforts to keep JV open for OHV use.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Congressional Fix Needed to Address OHV Permitted Event Boondoggle

The ongoing assault on permitted OHV events is a complex issue. First, you have “cost recovery” which has its genesis in the 1952 Independent Offices Appropriations Act. Second, categorical exclusions (CEs) for OHV permitted events (and some other project level activities such as prescribed burns) are now required to have a public notice, a comment period, and a formal appeals process thanks to a 2005 court ruling.

According to BRC "... on July 2, 2005 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an Order banning the use of CEs. The ruling requires any forest project using a CE to include a formal public notice, be available for public comment and give the public the option of appealing the decision. The order applies to all decisions made with a CE after July 7, 2005. It also applies nationwide."

Linked below is congressional testimony from Mark Rey on the CE court ruling (a good overview)

HQ believes tackling the many bureaucratic hurdles that face permitted OHV and other recreational events is an important task. Over recent years, we have seen many OHV events cancelled and/or postponed because of onerous regulations and red tape.

HQ believes that a congressional fix to this issue is the proper long-term solution. Several key tenets for legislative solutions could include the following:


Exempt OHV permitted events from cost recovery on units that receive supplemental funding (e.g. state OHV grants, etc.)”

Exempt CEs for OHV permitted events from public notice, public review, and a formal appeals process where said event uses designated roads, trails, and areas.”

With a new round of DEM and GOP Wilderness bills lurking in the background, this might be the perfect time to propose a fix for the recreation permit issue if there are to be any pro-access compromises offered in these bills as a way to move them forward. Also, we should do outreach to other user groups since they are being impacted too. I envision a bill with a lot of support from diverse recreational interests.

New Round of Wilderness Bills in 2011

Be assured The Quiet Warrior has placed this topic high on his “stack of stuff” to address in 2011 and will continue to develop ideas for proposed legislation.