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.

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

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

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


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.