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4x4Voice

Covering recreation and environmental issues within California
John Stewart

From the Landuse Front Lines...


NRC South Report for May 2019

Angeles NF – The USDA Forest Service has completed the Land Management Plan Amendment, Environmental Assessment (EA), and Decision Notice for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The Monument Plan provides guidance for the Angeles National Forest to manage the area’s unique ecological, social, and cultural resources for years to come.
 
The Monument, established in 2014, is part of the Angeles National Forest and encompasses more than 346,000 acres of high-use public land. More than 17 million people live within 90 minutes of the San Gabriel Mountains, which provide area residents roughly 30 percent of their water and 70 percent of their open space.
 
Federal Legislation - SOAR Act - This legislation will update the permitting system that guides and outfitters need to operate trips on public lands by simplifying processes, increasing flexibility in allowed activities, reducing unnecessary costs of permit administration and much more.
SOAR is written to make changes to the permitting processes and provides greater access to public lands in a way that increases economic benefits and continues environmental protections. SOAR simplifies permitting to allow outfitters across the United States to work with federal agencies, and more importantly, to get the American public outside to enjoy the wonders of nature.

Panamint Valley - The Australia-based firm Battery Mineral Resources Ltd. asked the federal government for permission to drill four exploratory wells to see if the hot, salty brine beneath the Panamint Valley floor which contains economically viable concentrations of lithium. The soft, silvery-white metal is a key component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and is crucial to the production of electric and hybrid vehicles.

The drilling request is opposed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Defenders of Wildlife, who say the drilling project would be an initial step toward the creation of a full-scale lithium mining operation. They say lithium extraction would bring industrial sprawl, large and unsightly drying ponds and threaten a fragile ecosystem that supports Nelson's bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and the Panamint alligator lizard, among other species.

The only functioning lithium mine in North America is about 150 miles away in Clayton Valley, Nev. Most of the lithium used for batteries now comes from the so-called Lithium Triangle of South America, a region that includes the world's largest salt flats.

Inyo NF - I was in Bishop a couple months ago for a Forest Plan Revision meeting with Region 5 and Inyo NF.  The meeting revolved around an object to the pending release of the Inyo Forest plan revision that I filed on behalf of Cal4Wheel.  My objection was one of about a dozen that were addressed at the meeting.

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John Stewart

From the Landuse Frontlines...

Cal4Wheel NRC South April 2019 Report

Department of Interior - Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed two secretarial orders in March highlighting the administration's support of outdoor recreation on public lands. Secretarial Order (SO) 3373 directs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to adequately consider public access for outdoor recreation when determining the appropriateness of the disposal or exchange of public lands. The second order, Secretarial Order 3374, establishes a departmental task force to ensure that the department efficiently and fully implements the most comprehensive public lands management legislation in a decade for the benefit of all Americans. The SO directs the BLM work to strike the proper balance for land and resources management, increase opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreation on Federal lands, create economic prosperity while protecting and preserving America's treasures.

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John Stewart

From the Landuse Frontlines...

March 2019 - The “administrative” issues are many in number and have a major impact on OHV recreation. Forest Plan revisions are high priority at the federal level while State Parks re-organization and SVRA plan updates are a high priority at the state level.

Nineteen national forests are wholly or partially within the borders of California and are important recreation destinations for Cal4Wheel members.  Of those, the four southern California Forests (Los Padres, Angles, San Bernardino and Cleveland) have current forest plans.  The Sequoia, Sierra, and Inyo NFs have forest plan revisions in progress.  The Inyo NF is now in the “objection” phase.  On behalf of Cal4Wheel, I attended meetings and submitted comments to the proposed Forest Plan revisions.  The final draft for the Inyo NF has been released and, on behalf of Cal4Wheel, I submitted objections to the proposed final plan.  Those objections have been deemed valid concerns to be addressed prior to the final plan release.  A conference was scheduled for Feb 19-21 to address my objections along with objections of others.

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John Stewart

NRC South June Report

This proposed critical habitat includes 9 national forests and 14 counties within the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

A copy of the comments is available from http://www.4x4voice.com/Public/ca4wdc/comments/frog-toad-comments.pdf

On June 19, I attended a meeting in Prather billed as "Stop the Land Grab" hosted by the Fresno County Sheriff and a group called Defend Rural America.  While there were several topics on the agenda, the main item was the pending EIS dealing with the yellow-legged frog and Yosemite Toad.

The DRA spokesperson presented a fair assessment of the issue.  The DRA organization appears to focus on citizen rights (as opposed to private property rights).  Their organization efforts are focused on counties through getting counties involved with managing the public lands. I am on the mailing list for DRA organization and will continue to review what they distribute.

Ocotillo Wells SVRA Lawsuit:
A lawsuit has been filed that poses a great threat to Ocotillo Wells SVRA.  State Parks (OHMVR Division) have committed to fighting the lawsuit.  The suit was in May and official notice was served to the OHMVR Division on June 14.  The Division has 30 days to file a response.  After the initial response, others can file as intervenors.  At this time, recreation interests are organizing to join n the lawsuit.

OHMVR Grants Program: The OHMVR Grants Program has been revised upward - from $10 million to $31 million.  Working through our lobbyist and countless hours of meetings, phone calls, and emails with administration officials and legislators, we have received an increase in the grants program.  This is an important development as the extra funding will qualify more grants and help preserve the state OHMVR Program. - See more at: http://www.4x4voice.com/index.php/easyblog/entry/63-ohmvr-grants-revised-with-increased-funding#sthash.mE0xX7pv.dpuf

Forest Service: San Bernardino, Sequoia, and Inyo National Forests have moved forward with fire restrictions prohibiting campfires and most open flames effective June 28.  Other National Forests in California are considering similar actions.  Similar fire/open flame restrictions are also in effect in National Forests in Arizona.

Eldorado NF:
The final Record of Decision on the 42 Eldorado route status has been released - 24 designated immediately; 18 closed pending mitigation. All routes will remain closed pending appeal resolution (45 day appeal period with an additional 45 days estimated to resolve appeals).  

Forest Plan Revision: The Bio-Regional Assessment covering the 9 national forests within the Sierra Nevada Mountain range has been released for comment.  In addition, Inyo and Sequoia NFs have released “topic papers” concerning their forest-specific assessment.

These assessments are important because they soliciting information from people the frequent the forests to provide information about how they use the forest and what do they value about the forest or their visits to the forest.

The information collected will serve as the basis for developing the follow-on scoping documents and draft Environmental Impact Statement; aka, Land and Resource Management Plan. The scoping portion of the NEPA public involvement is expected to begin in January 2014.

Sierra NF: I attended a meeting with Sierra NF concerning their process to begin Travel Management Sub-Prat A review.  According to Sierra NF officials, the Sub-Part A review will focus on roads NOT reviewed under previous Travel Management actions.

It is important to realize that through this process, the status of some roads could be recommended for increased, decreased, or closed after further site-specific review.  All national forests will be going through a similar process in the coming months.

Get Involved: An OHV recreationist from Colorado posted a though provoking opinion post on his BLOG - http://givemeyourohvkeys.blogspot.com/ with the title of “Give Me Your OHV Keys”.  It is an interesting read that scolds the average OHVer for not being involved to save their sport.

This comes at an appropriate time as July 1 is the official beginning of the next election cycle.  The TrailPAC (one of two political action committees in the nation) is reviewing races and candidates to support.

In the coming months, I will be working with Don Amador (The TrailPAC) to review candidates and provide voter recommendations.

Final Note: I recently encountered an abnormal situation concerning some ammunition. The moral is: Inspect your ammo; whether factory load or reload. I had finished loading an ammo clip and was storing it in a pouch when I noticed a strange mark on the top cartridge.  A section of the rim of the shell casing was folded under.  There are no marks in the bullet.  There is no possible way inserting the cartridge into the ammo clip would have caused that deformity.

The bullet is a 9mm Luger with the R-P head stamp indicating point of manufacture from Remington-Peters.  What is unfortunate, I do not know when or where this particular lot of ammo was purchased.  I do know that I have not purchased Remington-Peters ammo within the past 5 years.

After noting that defect, I did inspect my ammo stock looking for more R-P head stamp markings and for any sign of cartridge deformity.  That cartridge was one of four remaining live rounds with the R-P head stamp.

While case inspection is necessary prior to reloading a case and final inspection of the finished cartridge is necessary after reloading, it is a good idea to do a quick visual check of all your ammo prior to use.

It is likely this round would not have fed into the chamber and possibly jammed the semi-auto slide creating a potential hazard condition.

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John Stewart

CA4WDC NRC South Report - May 2013

Ocotillo Wells SVRA: The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Desert Protective Council (DPC) filed a lawsuit against Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. The lawsuit seeks severe restrictions on use of the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area (Ocotillo SVRA).  If successful, the lawsuit could effectively shut down the popular desert OHV recreation site.

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John Stewart

CCMA Protest Filed

California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs has joined a growing number of organizations protesting the BLM Hollister Field Office proposed Resource Management Plan (PRMP) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) Decision.  The protest was submitted to the Department of Interior in Washington, DC for review.

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