NRC Board Report - August 2018
The summer fire season has (and continues) to devastate many acres of public lands favored by OHV recreation. To date, AMA District 36 has been forced to cancel 5 fundraising events due to fire damaged trails and areas. The Mendocino Complex fire devastated OHV ares in Cow Mountain and Stonyford. While the fires are still burning, now is the time to contact your local recreation officer and begin discussions about what will happen during the Burn Area Recovery efforts.
Once the fires are out, the agencies will begin to restore the burn areas. Historically, these efforts have restored out of existence previously used OHV routes. Fire suppression requires ground access. Often, that ground access is achieved by running a D-9 dozer along a defined route, an existing OHV designated route. Restoration efforts will return the land contour to what existed before the fire. Will that OHV trail be in existence after the recovery efforts have ended? Frequently, the answer is No.
Meeting with your local recreation manager will let them know you are watching what they are doing and you expect to see your OHV trails in existence and open for use when the recovery efforts are complete. The reopening of OHV trail systems could take two or more years.
The fires are prompting land management agencies to re-evaluate existing policies. Throughout the west, signs are appearing prohibiting the use of charcoal and wood for campfires. Agencies are permitting the use of propane stoves, lanterns, and fire pits in approved areas. Remote camping opportunities are also being restricted. Target shooting on public lands is being restricted. Check your local Forest Service Ranger District or BLM office before to go to find out about fire safety rules. Know the rules before go.
National Park Service: Comments have been submitted on the Saline Valley Management Plan to encourage a “recreation friendly” approach to management.
Mojave Preserve has reopened a segment of the Mojave Road that runs west over the Piute Range. After a couple of years of phone calls and letters, the Park Service has completed repairs and reopened the storm damaged route.
Forest Service: The Forest Service has released their final draft Management Plan for the Inyo National Forest. The Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia NFs were three of eight early adopters of the plan revision process under the new planning rule. Inyo NF is the first forest to complete their plan revision. The plan revisions for Sierra and Sequoia are expected in the coming months.
Under the new planning rule, Forests will be engaging the public with a bi-annual “monitoring report”. This every two year report will be important as the Forest will change their practices based on the results of the monitoring. Coupled with Travel Management and its once a year review of routes, this could be good or bad for OHV. It will require that clubs be continuously involved and work with the Forest Service to keep their trails open.
Forest Service Reorganization - The Eldorado NF is realigning ranger districts and will move from 4 ranger districts to 3. The effort is expected to be complete within the coming six months.
BLM: The court-ordered WEMO Travel Plan comment period has ended. BLM expects to issue their final plan for court approval fall of 2018. Overall, the draft plan was more OHV friendly than previous documents. The final document will be reviewed by the court and the potential exists for anti-OHV groups to appeal any decision they do not like.
DRECP - the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan has been delayed pending review by Washington based BLM headquarters after industry interests noted that the plan as proposed limits energy development options. A final decision is expected before the end of 2018.
BLM Reorganization - Plans for a major reorganization of BLM are moving forward. Colorado appears to be the preferred site for relocation of the Washington based headquarters. The new proposed structure will re-align many of the state offices into regional offices with geographic/landscape connectivity. For California, this would place central and northern California within a region encompassing parts of Washington, Oregon, and Nevada. Southern California would be moved to a region encompassing Arizona, southern Nevada, south Utah and New Mexico. No date for the formal reorganization has been announced; however, funding has been requested for the effort to begin in Fiscal Year 2019 (Oct 2018-Sep 2019).
State Parks: Cal State Parks is pursuing a major reorganization. One effort will be to reading the three commissions, Parks Commission, Boating and Water Ways Commission, and the OHMVR Commission. Initial indications are the Parks is seeking to ensure that each commission reflects “diversity” and not slanted towards special interests. There will be a joint Commission meeting of the three in late September.
Litigation: BlueRibbon Coalition is moving forward with filing lawsuit against the Humbolt-Toyobie National Forest challenging the Forest’s restrictive sage grouse management plan which limits organized events in the area. The area impacted is in the eastern Sierra’s roughly from Body to Twin Lakes/Bridgeport area.