CA4WDC NRC South Report - October 2011

Oceano Dunes SVRA - The long awaited air quality study for Oceano Dunes SVRA has been released and presented to the OHMVR Commission at an Oct 13-14 meeting in Grover Beach.  Part of the meeting included a tour of the dunes area and a review of the methodology used to develop the study and collect the data.  The Friends of Oceano Dunes commissioned an independent review of the study data which identified some issues with the study methodology and data collection.  The local community leadership showed strong support for the continued use of Oceano Dunes SVRA by motorized recreation.

Johnson Valley - A coalition of motorized recreation groups within the state have joined in an effort to fight the Marine Corps expansion into Johnson Valley.  This effort will take an information and eduction message to the halls of Congress.  I am working with Fred Wiley, Off Road Business Association, to collect economics and other data for use in the effort.  The BlueRibbon Coalition and American Motorcyclist Association have committed to providing assistance.  The initial roll-out of the information campaign will begin at SEMA 2011 where the 20,000 plus comments submitted by the recreation community will be on display.

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) - A meeting was held at the BLM El Centro Field Office on Nov 3, 2011 to receive comments on the current dunes fee process and recommendations for changes to the current fee structure.  The several months of discussion, the El Centro BLM has begun working in a more open manner in resolving some dune fee issues.  No decision as to proposed changes for the dunes fee structure has been reached.

Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) - The San Benito County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of a Resolution to restore public access and OHV recreation at the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) located in the Central Coast Mountain Range.  The county's petition asks Congress to designate the currently closed 70,000-acre CCMA as a National Recreation Area (NRA).

The 2005 Clear Creek Travel Management Plan identified about 243 miles of motorized roads and trails, 400 acres of open riding areas and authorized a number of permitted OHV events.

ESA News:  Listing of the Amargosa River population of the Mojave fringe-toed lizard, California Golden Trout, and Mojave Ground Squirrel were found Not Warranted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tahoe NF Motor Vehicle Use Maps - The Tahoe MVUMs were scheduled for release when it was noted they contained numerous errors.  According to Tahoe spokesperson, the MVUMs have been retracted and will be released once reviewed and corrected.  A clerical error which resulted in the wrong route inventory data being used was blamed.

Legislative Update: The Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act (Cleveland NF) (Rep. Issa, R-CA 49) and Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests Protection Act (Rep. Dreier, R-CA 26) were scheduled for a hearing before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.  The six bills, four of them wilderness bills backed by Republicans, would protect nearly 125,000 acres in Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and California were reviewed at the Oct 25 hearing.

Legal Update: The Clinton Roadless Rule has been upheld by the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The decade-long legal battle is reaching a conclusion with the decision that meshes with another similar case decided in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The decision means that road construction or re-construction will continue to be prohibited within “Inventoried Roadless Areas” in national forests; however, that does not equate to those areas being managed as de facto wilderness.  While the law suite supported by a recreation coalition lead by BlueRibbon Coalition did not result in the rule being invalidated, definitions to be used in implementing the rule have been clarified addressing the tenets of the BRC-led legal arguments. Legislation is pending within congress that would eliminate the Inventoried Roadless Areas and additional legal action on the rule is still pending.

Truckhaven - Legal documents have been assembled and are awaiting schedule date for formal court filings.  I have provided a declaration as an individual and a member of the Tierra del Sol 4 Wheel Drive Club with a long standing interest in the area to EcoLogic Partners that will be filed with the court.

WEMO - Scoping for the Western Mojave Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement has completed and I submitted a lengthy comment on behalf of CA4WDC.  The Draft SEIS is expected early 2012.

Giant Sequoia National Monument - On October 1, a Giant Sequoia tree was uprooted in the Trail of 100 Giants Grove.  The tree (actually 2 trees sharing a common root-ball) have been documented as progressive leaning for a couple of years.  The Forest Service is reviewing options in order to re-open the Trail of 100 Giants.  This incident has been subject of a recent NBC news report.  The falling Giant Sequoia was due to natural causes and not influenced by human activity within the grove.  The tree in question was located along a stream bank and due to saturated soils conditions, the shallow rooted tree began leaning several years ago and finally reached the top-heavy tipping point.

This issue is being exploited by the environmental community with renewed calls to shift management of the Monument from the Forest Service to the National Park Service.

I have received numerous comments of praise for my Project and Legislation Lists.  I will continue to provide those as a monthly update.