Thursday, March 29, 2012

Good OHV News for a Change!

The Recreation HQ is really excited about sharing some good OHV news with our readers.   HQ wants to congratulate the staff at the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation for heading up this project with its partners from the Idaho Department of Administration, Forest Service, and BLM.  A great use of OHV registration fees.

Newspaper Article about new Online Interactive Trail Map for Idaho

Idaho Online Trail Map

This proactive story is a welcome break from all the OHV related "bad news" articles about trail closures, eco-lawsuits, and endless planning efforts. 

HQ salutes all those involved with this project!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ACTION ALERT - Send Support Letter to Sen. Paul

Just a few weeks ago, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S. 2122 to stop the EPA from promulgating new highly restrictive regulations under the Clean Water Act that would extend agency control over very small wetlands and intermittent streams (e.g. mud puddles and small watercourses on trails that occur after a rain storm).

The Recreation HQ supports Paul's effort to block these new EPA closure-oriented regulations. These new rules - supported by hard-core green organizations - are large unfunded mandates that can impact (e.g. close) OHV use on federal, state, and private lands.

Here is link to S2122 Overview

HQ believes anti-access groups will continue to utilize the EPA/CWA/ESA to close recreation roads and trails on public lands as is highlighted in the article below:

Article on Court Decision on FS Road/Water Runoff

 HQ urges your small business or large/small recreation group to join the following groups

Americans for Prosperity
American Land Rights Association
American Policy Center
Kentucky Farm Bureau
Kentucky Coal Association
Take Back Kentucky
Crounse Corporation
James DeLong (Author, Property Matters)
Quiet Warrior Racing
BlueRibbon Coalition

and send a letter in support of S.2122 TODAY to Sen.  Paul’s office – Attn: Rachel Bovard:  

Senator Rand Paul
Member, U.S. Senate
208 RSOB
Washington, D.C. 20510

Thanks for doing this today!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wash. Examiner Publishes Article on FS Trail Guide Scandal

It looks like the new FS Trail Guide scandal has hit the big time with posting of an article today by the Washington Examiner.

Washington Examiner Article on FS Trail Guide Scandal
As I said in the article, I believe this project is a prime example of gross incompetence by the federal government on any number of levels.  The first question that should be asked is, “Why was this project needed when the FS already has a number of highly skilled OHV trail master-performers and proven OHV BMPs?”  Second, “Who authorized this frivolous and unneeded project that was funded with taxpayer dollars?”

Third, “When is the agency going to ‘man-up’ and admit this was a huge mistake on their part and assure Congress, taxpayers, and the OHV community that something like this won’t happen again?”

All of those are questions that must be answered and the sooner the better.  HQ urges readers to leave a comment at the Washington Examiner website to show that we are not going to be insulted by this type of bias.

Thanks again to Ron Arnold and the Washington Examiner for covering public land recreation issues.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Something Stinks - Energy Ethics at Interior

The OHV community is being hammered on a daily basis with TMR-related closures, abuse of cost-recovery for permitted events, eco-lawsuits, and the sage grouse (just to name a few).
Recently, HQ has been focusing some attention to the large number of wind and solar energy projects that are being fast-tracked by the Obama Administration and Department of Interior.  The national media ran a story on March 17 about some ethically-challenged energy policy advisors at Interior and the NextEra project.

LA Times Article,0,7046819.story

With even simple OHV projects (new well at Stonyford or the Carnegie SVRA lands opened for public use) being held up for 4-12 years or more due to the state and federal regulatory process and “environmental concerns” pressed by anti-access groups, HQ believes there is a double standard being practiced by some green advocates and their friends in high (or low) places.
Several weeks ago, HQ got a blind fax (from a land agency employee who was fed up with the double-speak) regarding letters sent by pro-access Senator Jeff Session asking for accountability by Interior on the NextEra Project and a number of other energy efforts.

Senator Session’s Letters to Interior

It’s time that major energy projects on public lands get the same level of environmental scrutiny as OHV projects that seek to install a new well at a FS or BLM campground or build a dirt-bike trail.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

FS/Wildlands CPR Trail Controversy Grows

The Forest Service/Wildlands CPR new trail guide saga gets even stranger when you read
CPR’s recent blog on the subject.  The blog also contains an overview regarding questions from a recent senate hearing where Chief Tidwell was asked about the project.

Wildlands CPR Blog (hey we did not do anything wrong)

You will also enjoy the March 13 Wildlands letter to the FS where they defend the tone, direction, and content of their contribution to the “Comprehensive Framework for OHV Trail Management”

Wildlands CRP Letter to the Forest Service

HQ continues to believe the OHV community deserves an apology from the agency for what appears to be gross incompetence by the Missoula FS editor to catch the project’s slurs, slights, and errors.  On the other hand, if this turns out to have been a rogue operation authorized without approval by FS WO OHV staff -- or worse yet a report that used taxpayer funds to supplant the existing FS trail manual that was developed with input from FS OHV master performers – the OHV community will deserve a lot more than a simple apology.

When a local unit needs approval from the Regional or Washington Office to change what brand of toilet paper they are using in restrooms, this issue begs the question…”How in the heck did this project get approved and funded?”

The saga continues.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Smoked Bear Says "Actively Manage our Public Lands"

As the Recreation HQ prepares for a number of projects this year on public lands, we believe it is important to remember that wildfire season is quickly approaching.

Most of us are familiar with the Forest Service’s Smokey Bear program. While Smokey Bear works hard to educate the public on the prevention of wildfires, HQ believes it is missing the bigger picture of how to actively manage public lands to reduce the size and number of catastrophic wildfires that are impacting rural residents, wildlife, and recreation.

HQ has found that Smokey Bear has a younger brother called “Smoked Bear.” Smoked Bear advocates for active management (e.g. logging and grazing) to help reduce the fuel load and hence reduce the number of severe wildfires.

Smoked Bear Website

There are some pretty cool videos and audio recordings that carry the “active management” message. Feel free to browse that website.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

HQ Review of New FS 318-Page OHV GuideBook

Thanks to the AMA and BRC for making available the full 318-page guide published by the Forest Service called "A Comprehensive Framework for Off-Highway Vehicle Trail Maintenance."

Link to Full Report including Appendixes (16.7MB File)

After a quick review of the full report, HQ believes there were a number of system errors and/or breakdowns in communication between the author, Kevin Meyer, the FS’ Missoula TDC, and the Washington Office of the FS.

1. The author failed to be humorous when he equated the management of OHV recreation to “herding dragons” (Introduction: Page 1) or “keep[ing] the [OHV] beast at bay…” (Chapter 16: Closing Thoughts, Page 156). This attempt at humor seriously undermines the credibility of the agency and the project. The humor also shows a lack of sensitivity or understanding of “OHV politics” by the author or editors at the Missoula office.

2. Having the National Park Service author an OHV Management Guide is confusing. Although NPS lands in Alaska do allow for some OHV use, the NPS is not currently a “recreation agency.” In the early days of the NPS “recreation” was part of their mission. Overtime, the agency has developed a preservation-oriented mission where motorized use of trails is largely prohibited and even non-motorized activities are closely monitored and regulated.

3. Most of the photos were of trails that would be closed to OHV use in the lower 48 states because of wet conditions. Second, many photos were of riders on mountain bikes or hikers. Very few photos were of OHVs using trails in an appropriate manner. HQ believes the photos created a collective unintentional or intentional negative image of OHVs.

4. The most egregious offense is the Guide’s adoption (Chapter 7: Environmental Analysis) of Best Management Practices (BMPs) developed by the Wildlands Center for the Prevention of Road (CPR). CPR is an extreme anti-OHV organization.

5.  Appendix D is where you will find CPR’s “BMPs.”  As you might guess, the primary management tool for OHV recreation is to close roads, trails, and areas. These BMPs (Bogus Management Practices) recommend that trails be closed in roadless areas, research natural areas, citizen or agency proposed wilderness, wilderness study areas, and other lands with wilderness character. If a public land manager used these new BMPs – basically all existing legal trails and dispersed campsites would have to be closed.


HQ believes the FS should have utilized and engaged their own OHV master performers and experts (I know a lot of them) in the creation of any new OHV “Comprehensive Framework.” Even though Meyer knows a lot about trails and compiled many useful ideas in the Guide, the NPS should not be the lead on any revision of FS OHV management prescriptions. The FS should review this breakdown in communication and assure the public that it will do a better job so that something like this will not happen again. Finally, the agency should use its own BMPs instead of using CPR’s (I never met an OHV trail that I did not want close) BMPs. HQ hopes this is a teachable moment for all concerned.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Enviros Write New FS OHV Guidebook?

 CPR/FS OHV Mang.Tool - Closure

Sometimes in the land of OHV recreation, you will find an issue that makes you scratch your head and ask – what were those guys thinking?

The most recent example of that comes to us in the form of a 318-page guide apparently published by the Forest Service called "A Comprehensive Framework for Off-Highway Vehicle Trail Maintenance."

It appears that “Guide” was pulled off the agency website last week after they received a sharply worded letter on March 9 from the following organizations; the AMA, the All-Terrain Vehicle Association, the BlueRibbon Coalition, the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, the Colorado Snowmobile Association, Trails Preservation Alliance, and the Utah Shared Access Alliance.

March 9 Group Protest Letter to the Forest Service

HQ has reviewed the letter and a summary of the Guide. We too are astonished that the agency would publish a document on OHV management where most of the management prescriptions are based on proposals from the Wildlands Center for the Prevention of Road (CPR). CPR is one of the most anti-OHV groups in the country!

Summary of the Guide (note CPR credits)

HQ is currently in the process of trying to obtain the full report. If the concerns mentioned in the group letter to the FS are correct… this may be one of the biggest agency PR blunders in OHV history.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 9, 2012

OHV Event Bans Coming Soon to a Riding Area Near You?

The Recreation HQ still believes that motorized special events (enduros, dual-sports, club runs, etc.) face serious hurdles in the Greater Sage Grouse public land issue. BRC posted an alert yesterday with a sample letter/talking points that riders can use to submit their own personal comments by March 23.

BRC Greater Sage Grouse Alert

The recent grouse-related deferment of gas and oil leases by the BLM is a harbinger of what organized off-road events will face unless the BLM revises their IMs and/or allows local land managers to use common sense.

Deferment of Oil and Gas Leases

HQ urges riders and clubs to send in comments and ask the BLM to place them on the grouse mailing lists. Gear up now for a long fight.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wilderness Incursion Hurts the Sport

The Recreation HQ wants to highlight this story as an example of how a few irresponsible riders can ruin  decades of hard work undertaken by the FS, OHMVR, and recreation groups to keep riding areas open for motorized use. Taking your OHV or OSV into federally designated Wilderness areas is illegal and not cool.

Article on Incursion into the Mokelumne Wilderness

Be sure and let your riding buddies know that blatant illegal trespass hurts our sport and can result in areas (such as the Blue Lakes/OSV Snow Park off of Highway 88 in CA) getting closed to motorized vehicles or impact the opening of news areas for our use.

HQ knows that 98 percent of OHV/OSVers are responsible riders. However, because of the actions of the 2%ers -- we now have to work overtime to mitigate the political damage they caused.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Timber Decline Makes Recreationists an Endangered Species?

Having worked in the timber industry in Humboldt County during the 1970s, I have watched the tremendous economic hit that rural interests have endured because of impacts to that industry over the last 20-30 years.

HQ wanted to share a recent article about how this downturn impacts both the local economy, forest health, and public access.

SAF Article on Forest Hit

Historically, recreational use on federal timberlands was heavily subsidized by the logging industry. They constructed and maintained many of the roads and trails (old skid roads) that we use today. Those days are gone and recreationists must look to appropriated funding, state grant programs, and use fees to support our activity. All of those support elements are in a decline as well.

As a recreation professional today, I am concerned about how the current political and economic crisis will impact access to, and recreational use of, public lands. This current state of flux (with no end in sight) means that we must continue to future and be pro-active as recreation advocates. Sharpening the existing tools (and adding new ones) in our “land-use toolbox” is the order of the day. If we don’t adapt – or work to effect change -- to our ever-evolving political environment, we could end up on the ESA list ourselves.

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