|NRC South Report January 2012|
|Thursday, 02 February 2012 15:51|
The Forest Service released two important documents in January. The ﬁrst is the long awaited Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule. The second is Forest Service Watershed Condition Framework.
After review of nearly 300,000 comments received on the proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement issued February 2011, Forest Service has released their preferred course of action for the national planning rule. The Record of Decision on the ﬁnal planning rule is expected within 30 day of February 3, the ofﬁcial release date.
The preferred alternative emphasizes collaboration and strengthens the role of public involvement and dialogue throughout the planning process. It also would require the use of the best available scientiﬁc information for decisions.
Highlights of the preferred alternative include:
Along with the national planning rule, the Forest Service released their Watershed Condition Framework.
The concept of “watersheds” crosses Forest Service Ranger District and National Forest boundaries and includes state, local, and private lands. Each priority watershed carries a classiﬁcation of Functioning Properly, Functioning at Risk or Impaired Function. While priority attention will focus on “Impaired Function” watersheds, close attention is expected on activities within the “Functioning at Risk” watersheds to ensure they do not adversely impact the current classiﬁcation.
Also within the Sequoia NF, a preliminary decision on action with the Trail of 100 Giants has been released. A fallen sequoia tree blocked a part of the popular hiking trail. Recreation and environmental groups have agreed on a plan to build a boardwalk along side the fallen tree to re-open the popular trail. That work is expected to begin late summer 2012 and be completed within a couple of months.
Another pending action within the Sequoia NF is the Needles Fire Lookout restoration which was destroyed in a ﬁre. While there is agreement among all stakeholders the tower should be replaced, a ﬁnal action plan from the Forest Service will not be available until survey crews can review the area after the winter snows are gone.
OHMVR - As noted last month, Daphne Greene was not re-appointed to the position of Deputy Director of the OHMVR Division of California State Parks. The Governor’s Ofﬁce has been inundated with requests for her re-appointment. I drafted a letter of support for her re-appointment which was circulated among the major state OHV groups (California Motorized Recreation Council) for their signature. Almost 200 association, organizations and clubs around the state have signed on to that letter. To date, there is no additional news about the Governor’s decision.
Johnson Valley (Save the Hammers) - California Motorized Recreation Council has established a sub-group to develop a plan to combat the proposed Marine expansion into Johnson Valley. A major fundraising effort will be held during the 2012 King of the Hammers event. The funds are necessary to engage in lobbying activities in Washington DC to convince Members of Congress that the proposed Marine expansion into Johnson Valley is not a good idea.
A broad base of state and national organizations along with local, state and national businesses are working together to stop the proposed Marine expansion plans.
Release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement is expected on April 27. The ﬁnal Record of Decision is expected within 30-45 days later. After the ROD is signed, the package will be submitted for congressional review and approval.
The Department of Interior has released a draft national strategy to help prepare for and reduce the impacts of climate change on species, ecosystems, and the people and economies that depend on them.
The draft National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is available for public review and comment through March 5, 2012
The strategy represents a draft framework for uniﬁed action to safeguard ﬁsh, wildlife and plants, as well as the important beneﬁts and services the natural world provides the nation every day, including jobs, food, clean water, clean air, building materials, storm protection, and recreation.
Meanwhile, within BLM Desert District work continues with the WEMO route review. Public input is being sought from those with knowledge about routes in the desert region. Remaining meeting schedule is:
Barstow meetings: Barstow Field Ofﬁce, 2601 Barstow Road, Barstow, CA 92311
• Thursday, Feb. 9. TMA 5: WEMO North Barstow Desert Wildlife Management Area signing sub-regions north of I-15 and SR 58
Within the past year, all land management agencies (Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) have either begun or completed “watershed” reviews of lands under their management control. In addition, the same agencies have been engaged in “climate change” impact studies or reviews for several years. While wilderness and wildlife continue to be major impacts to recreation opportunity, water and climate issues are beginning to rise in importance.
On the wildlife front, the Sage Grouse is emerging as a high priority issue. Initial indications are that grazing and energy development will receive the majority of the impact with the greatest being in Wyoming.
And, a conﬁrmed sighting of a wolf has been reported in northern California in an area where the last reported wolf sighting was in 1924.
And, the Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan is moving forward. U.S. Fish and Wildlife solicited requests for membership on Recovery Implementation Teams. I have been selected as the motorized recreation representative on the team for the Western Mojave Region under the tortoise recovery plan.