CA4WDC NRC South Report - April 30, 2012
Los Padres NF - The Los Padres Conservation and Recreation Act of 2012 (H.R. 4109) provides for the designation of Ballinger Canyon and Mount Pinos as OHV Areas.
In addition, the legislative language is clear that there “…shall be no net loss of recreational values, including off-highway vehicle recreational values…” in the two areas and sections 401 and 403 in H.R. 4109 adds particular roads and trails to the Los Padres National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map and call for a feasibility study on the construction of specified new trails.
Existing language in the bill provides for boundary adjustments as necessary to keep existing trails outside the new designated wilderness.
The current bill contains numerous positive actions for OHV recreation. I have submitted two issues of concern and have been notified they be reviewed for inclusion in the bill during the “mark-up” session. Those issues are: 1) maintenance actions will be employed to maintain the integrity of the wild and scenic river designations and 2) allow cooperative agreements with State or local government agencies to manage the recreation activities.
The AMA D-37 Dual Sport and other local groups working on this legislation are comfortable with the language. The national OHV groups conditionally support the bill provided the existing provisions remain intact and the bill is not otherwise amended in a manner that is contrary to those provisions. They continue to ask for additional tweaks where appropriate.
Eldorado NF - In 1988, a group called FAWN brought what then seemed an epic challenge to motorized recreation on Eldorado National Forest. In 2005, a second lawsuit was filed in an effort to halt motorized recreation on the Eldorado. More than two decades later, preservationist special interests remain fixated on using the courts to close whatever the agency leaves open. The BlueRibbon Legal Team, with partners like the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, California Enduro Riders Association and AMA District 36, has been there through every brutal fight.
The latest effort focuses on the 2008 Travel Plan. That Plan was certainly less than perfect from an OHV recreation perspective, but was the foundation where groups worked with the Forest Service to maintain the trail system. Led by the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation and Center for Biological Diversity, a lawsuit was filed outlining a familiar litany of claims, including variants of the age-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) arguments, as well as a new claim arguing the Forest failed to properly create a "minimum road system”.
OHV interests, represented by the BlueRibbon Legal Team, successfully moved to intervene in the case. The case was filed in 2010 and heard in April, 2011. The Court issued a decision in May, 2011 which rejected the bulk of Plaintiffs' claims. However, the Court ruled in Plaintiffs' favor on two small, technical issues, which now appear to affect the possible future of 42 route segments. The parties entered into settlement talks which failed to resolve differences. The case headed back to Court on February 13, 2012 to determine the future of those 42 routes and further planning on the Eldorado. That hearing required the Forest Service to develop a plan to resolve the resolve the status of the 42 route segments and bring that plan back to the Court.
That hearing, to be scheduled, is expected in the May-June 2012 time frame.
Additional information concerning the lawsuit and copies of filings is available from BlueRibbon Coalition at: http://www.sharetrails.org/legal/eldorado
Sierra NF - Dinky Landscape Restoration Project is in process involving about 157,000 acres south and east of Shaver Lake. A collaborative group has been established and there is a monthly schedule of meetings for the remainder of the 2012 calendar year. More information on this project will be distributed in the coming months.
Sierra NF is modifying their “seasons of use” policy. CA4WDC comments have been submitted.
Six Rivers NF - Six Rivers NF has released an Environmental Assessment that will modify their existing Motor Vehicle Use Map. BlueRibbon Coalition and CA4WDC, along with local partners, did file a lawsuit against the Six Rivers NF for their failure to follow prescribed guidelines prior to closing motor vehicle routes. This EA is being carefully reviewed to ensure that it was developed in agreement with the terms of settlement of the lawsuit.
Sequoia NF/Giant Sequoia National Monument - The GSNM Plan is expected to be released summer of 2012. The Monument Plan is the culmination of efforts to keep motorized recreation as an option within the boundaries of the Giant Sequoia National Monument that began with a lawsuit in the late 1980s, followed by a Mediated Settlement Agreement.
The 1990 MSA established terms for moving forward with a management plan for the then-Sequoia National Forest that provided for protection of Sequoia Groves. Former President Clinton signed a proclamation establishing the Giant Sequoia National Monument in April 2000. During these actions, CA4WDC has maintained standing to protect motorized recreation opportunities within the Monument and surrounding forest.
Additional Sequoia NF projects include the Piute Mountains Travel Management. This region of the forest was excluded from their main travel management due to the 2008 Piute Fire and subsequent burn area recovery efforts. That travel management plan has been placed on temporary hold pending completion of the Monument Plan. As Sequoia will be entering into a forest plan revision, it is expected that the Piute Mountain TM will be incorporated within the forest planning process.
Forest Plan Revisions - The Sierra, Sequoia, and Inyo NFs will be undergoing forest plan revisions. The process will involve one year of “science synthesis” and “forest assessment”. That will be the basis for the following two years where the Forest Plan will be developed and submitted for public comment in accordance with NEPA requirements. These plans will be developed under the new Forest Planning Rule. The “rule” details how the Forest will engage the public during the planning process.
The revised forest plans will not contain specific goals nor make specific decisions. The plan will be the guidelines for how decisions are made during a site or project specific analysis.
The plans are expected to be broad in scope and deal in terms of “landscape” and “watershed”. This means the plans will not necessarily apply to the administrative boundaries of one Forest or Ranger District within a Forest.
Two key components of the planning process are 1) Best Available Science and 2) Public Collaboration.
The public collaboration is inclusive of ALL members of the public: recreation, environmental, and state, local, and tribal government.
Southern California Roadless Lawsuit - BlueRibbon Coalition, AMA D-36, and CA4WDC filed as intervenor on a lawsuit filed by the California State Attorney General and Center for Biological Diversity concerning the Enterprise Forest Plan which covers the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests. Settlement discussions to determine a method to close routes ended in an impasse.
The remaining action on part of the Forest Service is to enter into a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed plan amendment to modify existing land use zones in selected Inventories Roadless Areas (IRA) and to include more Back Country Non-Motorized (BCNM) and Recommended Wilderness (RW) areas.
The proposed action would change the LUZ allocation to Back Country Non-Motorized on approximately 300,000 acres of IRAs, and change the LUZ allocation to Recommended Wilderness on approximately 80,000 acres of IRAs. The majority of the additional BCNM allocations are located in IRAs on the Los Padres National Forest and San Bernardino National Forest. Additions to the Recommended Wilderness allocations are within IRAs on the Angeles and Cleveland National Forests.
The Forest Service will be hosting multiple open house workshops during the scoping period. Maps of the proposed changes will be available for viewing. The meeting times and locations are: ·
Comments are due June 10, 2012.
Johnson Valley - The Final Environmental Impact Statement has been delayed past the Apr 27 release date. It is now expected in May-June.
California Motorized Recreation Council has created a broad based coalition to assist with the funding of the fight to Save Johnson Valley.
As a partner in California Motorized Recreation Council, the Board of Directors of Cal4Wheel has approved releasing $9,733.94 in legal funds held by the Association to help fund the Washington, DC lobbying efforts. These funds were collected through donations and fund raising activities specifically for Johnson Valley efforts.
CMRC has retained the services of The Livingston Group to lobby against the proposed Marine Corps expansion.
California Legislation (from SEMA) - Legislation (S.B. 1224) to exempt all motor vehicles prior to the 1981 model year from the emissions inspection requirement will not be reconsidered by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee after failing its initial vote. According to bill sponsor Senator Doug LaMalfa, “Although the bill was granted reconsideration, the opponents contend the exemption is intended as a means of ignoring the effects of pollution caused by older, high-emissions vehicles rather than a legitimate benefit for classic car collectors whose vehicles are rarely driven. My efforts to convince my colleagues of the merits of the bill have been unsuccessful, and therefore, the bill has been dropped for this year and, of course, I am very disappointed.”
This is not the first setback we’ve suffered at the hands of the California legislature nor is it likely to be the last. However, we can take comfort in the fact that lawmakers like Senator LaMalfa continue to push for fairness in how the state’s vehicle inspection laws are applied, particularly to rarely used, well-maintained collector cars.