Monday, March 25, 2013

LEGAL UPDATE - Minimization Does Not Mean Closure

Example of "Alpine-type" Single Track
The Recreation HQ believes two recent federal court decisions support the Forest Service’s authority to designate high-quality alpine-type motorized routes and single track trails despite legal and political objections by anti-access groups.
In early March 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the agency’s right to reopen the South Canyon Road (Jarbidge Road) to motorized use.  HQ believes the court recognized the unit’s efforts to “minimize” environmental impacts of the road in their planning documents.
Link to Jarbidge Decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
According to the article, the Ninth Circuit 3 judge panel further found that the plan the agency chose for the road, "incorporated several mitigating modifications." These included "minimizing the number of river crossings by heavy equipment during construction;" "clearly marking low-water crossings and posting them with 5 MPH speed limits;" and designing the new road not for passenger cars but four-wheel drive vehicles.
Last Friday, a federal court sided with pro-access groups regarding the designation of premium single-track trails found in in the Rico West Dolores area of the San Juan National Forest in Colorado.
BRC News Release on Rico West Court Decision
HQ believes these court decisions reinforce the concept that minimization DOES NOT mean elimination. Instead, reasonable efforts to manage or “minimize” environmental or user conflicts in federal planning efforts can often be adopted to keep high quality alpine routes open for OHV use.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review/Comment on CA OHV Grants including NEW OHV Park in Yolo County

OHV Bridge on FS Lands Supported by CA OHV Grant Program
The Recreation HQ wants to alert riders in CA (and riders from other states who visit CA OHV areas) to submit a comment on grants where you ride.   BRC issued an ACTION ALERT today with easy instructions on how to find and review your favorite grants and hopefully make a comment.
As you know, establishing a NEW riding area is almost as rare as a Blue Moon.  However, Yolo County has submitted a planning grant for a new 80-100 acre OHV riding area outside of Woodland, CA.  Getting some legal riding opportunities in this part of the Central Valley is very important.
Yolo County is having a public meeting on March 20 at 6:30pm in Woodland.  It is important for
OHVers to attend and show support for new riding opportunities in this area of the state.  PLEASE share with your rider networks.
Yolo County Public Meeting Announcement
March 20, 2013
Yolo County Admin. Building
625 Court Street
Woodland, CA 95695
*Meet in Atrium Training Room B02
Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Eldorado NF SEIS - Water Quality, Conditional Designations, and OHV

Rock Armor on Rubicon Trail
As OHV and other access stakeholder groups prepare comments for the Eldorado SEIS, HQ wants to remind readers that water quality-based travel management decisions – particularly in high elevation alpine-like settings – are here to stay.
Yesterday, BRC issued an alert/update with key concepts for affected parties to review as they prepare to file comments on the SEIS.  One of those ideas is “conditional designation” or pre-designation of routes once relevant mitigation measures are implemented.
BRC Alert with Key Concepts on Eldorado SEIS (link to 11 year Eldo legal fight there too)
OHV Bridge at Mace Mill OHV Area
OHVers already have examples of water-based legal and political battles at the Rubicon Trail, Mace Mill OHV Area, Minimization Criteria in the Stanislaus legal case, and Carnegie SVRA just to name a few.  Implementation of water-based mitigation measures (trail reroutes, hillside stabilization, bridges, barriers, construction of contour trails, armored trails in riparian areas, etc.) have been critical in those areas to keep trails open.
Link to QWR’s Recent Blog with Photos of Carnegie SVRA Mitigations
Overview of the “Minimization” Issue in the Stanislaus NF Legal Case
Contour Trail at Carnegie SVRA
HQ believes that conditional designations are an effective tool in travel planning.  Several Forests have adopted that prescription to restore access to historic motorized trails in alpine areas.  Also, our good friend, Steve Pretzel, the Director for Trail Bike Management in Australia, has addressed water-quality and other environmental and political issues to enhance OHV recreation in that country.  Trail crews at various state and federal agencies and private firms including the folks at Trails Unlimited and RecConnect spend a lot of their time installing water-based mitigation measures.
Link to Inyo NF Conditional Designations
Link to 2012 NOHVCC Conf. where Pretzel, Trails Unlimited, et al gave presentations
Given the current and foreseeable political, regulatory, economic, and legal climate, OHV user groups and clubs will have to work even harder with land management agencies and partners on efforts to address water-based environmental concerns that will “minimize” trail closures and maximize trail opportunities.