Legal cases lead the headlines for October. Action continues in the long running WEMO case. While the below information notes a September 2009 date, legal action has been occurring with WEMO and other southern California desert plans for over a decade. Throughout this time, Cal4Wheel has been active in the issues while partnering with the BlueRibbon Coalition for legal support.
WEMO (the continuing Saga) - On September 28, 2009, Judge Illston entered an “Order re: Summary Judgment Motions” finding that Defendants United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., (“Federal Defendants”) had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the Federal Land and Policy Management Act (“FLPMA”) when they adopted the Western Mojave (“WEMO”) management plan amendment.
On October 24, 2012, the Court heard an update and ordered as follows:
1. BLM shall provide to Plaintiffs copies of a map or maps showing the locations of all kiosks in the Western Mojave Planning Area by October 29, 2012;
2. BLM shall update the Parties and the Court by December 31, 2012, as to the progress of its Barstow and Ridgecrest field offices in completing comprehensive databases of legal and illegal OHV routes in the WEMO, and disclose details as to how the database was developed and what specific information it captures;
3. BLM shall provide to Plaintiffs by November 30, 2012, a work order/plan for analyzing route monitoring data to determine compliance at a “statistically significant level;
4. BLM shall also provide to Plaintiffs by November 30, 2012, a plan for monitoring unauthorized vehicle use on limited-use routes (e.g., quad vehicle use on motorcycle-only routes);
5. BLM shall modify the monitoring results table presented in its Court-ordered quarterly reports to the Parties and the Court to include additional data and details as to both methodology and results; and
6. The Parties shall contact Judge Vadas’s Courtroom Deputy to arrange for a time for the Court to conduct a site-visit of illustrative areas of the WEMO, to be identified by the Parties, accompanied by representatives of Plaintiffs and BLM.
If disputed issues regarding remedies enforcement remain after the above deadlines, the Parties shall schedule a hearing before Magistrate Vadas to be held in January 2013.
Truckhaven - That lawsuit has been settled in favor of recreation interests that filed the suit. Full details are yet to be released. However, the general plan for the Truckhaven area can now proceed.
OHMVR Funding Study - Working on a funding study of OHMVR Grants, OHV registration, SVRA attendance and OHMVR operations costs.
Desert Landscape Conservation Council - Meeting held in El Paso, TX Oct 10-12. Involves six southwest state and 10 states in Mexico. Effort is focused on water quality (and quantity), climate change, and land management.
Dinky Landscape Restoration Project - Sierra NF with potential impact on a number of OHV trails; Swamp Lake, Bald Mtn, and Dusey. USFS effort is a major fuels reduction project and protection of Pacific Fisher and Goshawk. The Bald Mountain Project is being reviewed. With in the Cow Creek Critical Aquatic Refuge, decommissioning of NFS roads 9S402 and 9S402A is proposed. Currently, both roads are closed year round to public use.
Giant Sequoia National Monument - Final monument plan has been released. It closely fol- lows the roadmap recommended by the collaborative team, now the Giant Sequoia National Monument Association.
OHMVR Commission Meeting - Held in Placerville (Sept 14-15) with a tour of the Rubicon Trail (up to Spider Lake). Rubicon Trail and East Bay Regional Parks (Carnegie/Tesla) were the major topics.
USFS Sierra Cascade Dialog - Seventh of an on-going series of meetings that are a precursor to the start of forest plan revisions held in Sacramento on Sept 27. Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo will be the first in Region 5 to begin forest plan revisions under the new planning rule. Landscape scale bio-regional assessments are an important part of Region 5 forest plan process. These are in addition to the planning rule required.
The Dialog session covered some concepts that are likely to appear in future forest planning. Topics noted include:
BLM El Centro - Released a draft Business Plan for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA). The Plan calls for an increase in the weekly permit fee from $25 to $40 when purchased off-site. On-site weekly permits are proposed to be $70. The Annual permit fee is proposed at $180. The fee increase begins on September 1, 2013. The proposed public review and comment period has been limited to less than 3 weeks ending at 8:00 a.m. on November 5th.