Monday, November 11, 2019

VETERANS DAY TRIBUTE - Protect Access to Public Lands

VETERANS DAY TRIBUTE – Protect Access to Public Lands

Since OHV recreation is a very popular family activity for those who serve or have served in the military, I think one way to honor that service on Veterans Day is for those of us who have advocacy roles to continue fighting for their freedom to enjoy access to public lands.

Ocean-based sand recreation on the West Coast is a precious commodity and is enjoyed by many military families.  Two of the most popular ocean sand OHV areas are Oceano Dunes SVRA in California and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (ODNRA). 

About 10 years ago, the Forest Service that operates the ODNRA was developing a travel plan that included onerous closure-oriented management prescriptions based mostly on political science vs. sound science.

When Congress created the ODNRA in the early 1970s it was a 40,000 acre prehistoric dune complex that was largely open sand with very little vegetation.  Almost immediately, the agency and other stakeholders planted invasive plant species to control moving sand and dust caused by large wind events.

Those efforts over many years converted that large open sand structure into an unnatural forested landscape that was detrimental to critical species such as the western snowy plover and eliminated
about 90% of the open sand OHV recreation opportunities that existed at the time of its congressional designation.

Fortunately, the OHV recreation community got engaged and is working with the Forest Service and conservation groups to employ effective science-based management practices that enhance the OHV recreation experience and improves wildlife habitat.

Testimony presented at the recent CA OHV Commission hearing on Oceano Dunes SVRA has day-lighted  the fact that most, if not all, of the Park’s dust mitigation measures are arbitrary and also based largely on political science instead of sound science. 

That reality means the greater OHV community at Oceano must continue to challenge the ongoing efforts of regulators to close most, or all, of the park to OHV recreation.

Today, let’s recommit ourselves to protect and preserve our freedoms to access Oceano SVRA and other public lands in a responsible manner for current and future generations.