Recreation Advocate

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John Stewart

ARRA Newsletter - July 2008

ARRA Newsletter - July 2008

Senate OHV Hearing

We reported in the last newsletter that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had scheduled a hearing for June 5th on federal OHV management issues. In preparation for those hearings, ARRA made a number of visits to Senate offices to discuss the importance of OHV recreation on public lands and to answer any questions that Senate staff might have about OHV management issues. We found a great deal of interest and support for OHV recreation and we think this attitude was reflected in the hearing as well.

Much of the focus at the hearing was spent on how the Bureau of Land Management and the U. S. Forest Service differed in their approach in managing OHV recreation. Both agencies acknowledged that OHV recreation was an important component of the recreational opportunities they provided to the general public and we were pleased to here that affirmation. The Bureau of Land Management did come under some criticism on why it wasn't pursuing a travel management rule similar to the one promulgated by the Forest Service. BLM officials addressed those concerns, but I am not sure that they convinced the committee chairman, Senator Jeff Bingaman, with their arguments. However, I don't anticipate the committee will take any further action this year on OHV issues, but think there is potential in the next Congress. We will be closely following the work of this committee and will alert you in the event any potential action might be of concern.

I submitted testimony on behalf of ARRA. If you care to review our testimony or the press release issued about the hearing, please visit the ARRA website:

ARRA's submitted testimony -
ARRA's Press Release -

A Full Plate

Wildfires in the west; floods in the midwest; rising fuel prices throughout the country; home foreclosures soar; financial institutions in trouble; airlines cut back flights; truckers park their trucks because they can't afford to fill up the tank; the auto industry shuts down plants because no one wants to buy an SUV; and our soldiers continue to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. And, if this isn't enough, it's an election year as well.

I have listed just some of the challenges facing our nation and you no doubt can add to this litany of woes. I prepared this list as a reminder that we face some serious issues ahead... issues requiring politicians to put country above party.

The price of gas at the pump is just one example. Republicans have for years argued for more domestic petroleum exploration both offshore and on public lands. On the whole, Democrats have opposed such efforts and have done so successfully.

Democrats, on the other hand, have argued that we need a national policy that encourages energy conservation as well as the development of alternative sources of energy. Republicans have generally been lukewarm to such ideas because they claimed such efforts wouldn't do enough to close the energy gap.

Could it be that we need to do both? What's wrong with increasing domestic oil production while at the same time seriously embracing an energy conservation program? Maybe we need to provide new tax incentives for solar, wind and other forms of energy. Maybe we need a basket of solutions rather than just being for or against oil production. Maybe we need a national collaborative effort on the part of Republicans and Democrats alike so that our country can eventually become energy independent. After all, such independence is in our country's self-interest both from an economic and national security standpoint.

Seeking a consensus on more effective forest management practices, meaning that harvesting trees is not a bad thing to do if done right, will go a long way towards minimizing the risk of wildfires. Managing floods may mean providing farmers with financial incentives to cultivate away from watershed areas while also focusing on the need to repair an aging levee system.

Having a national energy policy may mean coupling energy production with energy conservation, involving not only the traditional sources of energy but alternative sources as well. Maybe our national energy policy should provide incentives for car and truck manufacturers to find new solutions to energy efficiencies rather than maintaining the traditional adversarial relationship between manufacturers and the federal government.

Well, I could go on in citing other potential areas of collaboration for the national good, but I think you get my point. But you are probably asking yourself, what does this have to do with access to public lands? To me it's quite simple.

If people are worried about a wildfire or a flood, they are going to attend to the immediate problem and not something down the road. If they can no longer afford filling up their car with a full tank of gas or they are worried about losing their home to foreclosure, they aren't going to spend any time planning a trip to a national forest to camp, hike or ride their OHV.

My fear is that with pressing national problems (wildfires, floods, energy shortages, etc.) people are going to be distracted and aren't going to have the time to worry about policy issues affecting the use of our public lands. The national plate is full. Our challenge is to figure out a way to make sure that a small corner of that plate has space for our issues. I have no doubt that the anti-access folks will make sure their viewpoint makes it on the national agenda. And maybe, just maybe we need to think outside of the box and find ways to collaborate with the very entities who want to deny us access to public lands. We can't preach collaboration on other national issues without taking a look in the mirror and realizing we, too, need to change our way of thinking and doing when it comes to advocating for OHV access to public lands.

At ARRA, our job is to keep you informed and engaged in the public policy issues affecting access to public lands and we primarily do that through the ARRA website. I believe our job is going to become even more challenging in the months ahead as other pressing issues demand your attention. You can help us help you by letting us know how we can do a better job. We are constantly seeking new ways to become more effective voice in keeping our public lands open to you, the American people.

As we celebrate this Fourth of July with family and friends, as we celebrate all that this country means to us and to the world, let us think of ways we can all begin to work together, more effectively. As always, we welcome your ideas.


Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access

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John Stewart

Be A Good Sport: Tread Lightly

Be A Good Sport: Tread Lightly

Last time I covered the code of ethics that guides off-road driving. I’d like to go into greater detail here, and will use the Tread Lightly! pledge as a guide.

Tread Lightly! has separate categories for land and water, though the rules are similar for both. I’ve combined them, because many off-road enthusiasts also enjoy boating. (For more on Tread Lightly!, go to They make it easy to remember the rules.

Continue reading
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John Stewart

UFWDA ACTION ALERT - Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area


On June 11, 2008, members of the North Carolina US congressional delegation introduced HR 6233 & s 3113 to return management of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area back to the National Park Service by setting aside the recently enacted consent decree that has virtually eliminated pedestrian and off-highway vehicle access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. The bill will reinstate the Interim Management Plan for Species Management adopted through the NEPA process and public involvement by the National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service and set aside the consent decree. The consent decree was a result of law suit settlement with Defenders of Wildlife and The National Audubon Society represented by Southern Environmental Law Center.

How to be the most effective
1) Visit – visiting your elected officials is the most persuasive method of convincing them to support HR 6233 and s. 3113
2) Fax - faxed letters indicating who you are, where you live, why you care, and why they should care are more persuasive than other methods of sending a letter.
3) Call – a personal call is very effective and more effective than e-mailing
4) E-mail – e-mailing a letter is less effective than visiting, faxing or e-mailing a letter, but will work if that is the method that enables you to do your part.
5) Mail – using the U.S. Postal Service takes up to 30 days for delivery so it is the least effective choice in contacting your elected officials.

How to find your US Senator or Representative
To find your US Representative(s) click here
Or go here directly:

To find your US Senators click here
Or go here directly:

Talking points
These talking points are derived in part from information at the Free Island Press, July 1, 2008, “The Case For Passing Legislation That Returns Management of the Seashore to the Park Service”. And from information on the University of North Carolina website,

« Ask them specifically to co-sponsor the bills
« Ask them specifically to support passage of the bills
« Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area was established first and foremost as a national seashore recreational area under its enabling legislation
« The 2007 nesting season, prior to implementation of either the Interim Management Plan or the consent decree, was the most successful piping plover breeding season in over 20 years
« Under the consent decree, a single plover chick is given enough beach area to cover the decks of three U.S. Navy super aircraft carriers, the largest warships on earth
« In most American communities, a convicted child molester can live closer to a public school than a fisherman and his family can get to a plover
« The Atlantic piping plover population is fast approaching 2,000 nesting pairs -- a figure that makes them eligible for de-listing as threatened
« American oystercatcher numbers were better last year under the interim strategy than they are this year under the consent decree, proving the consent decree doesn’t work
« The Outer Banks of North Carolina attract 5 million tourists each year to the area’s many beaches
« The park is largely inaccessible under the consent decree during the spring, summer, and fall, when the majority of Americans who visit the park take their vacations
« In 2003, tourists spent $600 million dollars in the Outer Banks. The consent decree is causing a tremendous loss of this tourism revenue resulting in an extremely damaging economic impact state-wide in North Carolina
« Before implementation of the consent decree Judge Boyle declared his intention to provide the environmental groups exactly what they sought without hearing any evidence from either point of view and precluded the intervening parties, Dare and Hyde counties and the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance, from entering any evidence at all in open court. This occurred within the first few minutes of a February, 2008 scheduling conference in Judge Boyle’s court.

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John Stewart



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John Stewart

Campfire Safety

Campfire Safety

by: John Stewart
Natural Resource Consultant
California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs

It is coming down to the Dog Days of Summer and it has been a long dry summer with many outdoor opportunities restricted due to sever fire danger.

Even though many public lands are under fire restrictions, campfire safety is still of concern all year. Everyone should follow fire safety precautions when visiting public lands to help to keep our public lands free from fires.

If you have a campfire, please abide by the following rules:

* Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, pine needles and leaves.
* Build your fire in an approved ring or build a ring of stones around your fire site.
* Pile extra wood away from the fire.
* Clear the area down to bare soil.
* Keep your campfire safe and small, especially in windy conditions.
* Never leave your campfire unattended.
* Drown the fire with water and dirt, stir remains, add more water and dirt, and stir again.
* Do not bury your coals as they can smolder and re-ignite later.
* Make sure your fire is dead out before leaving.

If you must have a fire, consider a metal container such as an old washing machine tub that is at least six inches above the ground. A metal fire container helps confine the hot coals to reduce the risk of the fire spreading.

Now, sit back, relax and enjoy the fire. Just remember to keep it contained and make sure it is out when you leave.
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OutdoorWire, 4x4Wire, JeepWire, TrailTalk, MUIRNet-News, and 4x4Voice are all trademarks and publications of OutdoorWire, Inc. and MUIRNet Consulting. Copyright (c) 1999-2019 OutdoorWire, Inc and MUIRNet Consulting - All Rights Reserved, no part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without express written permission. You may link freely to this site, but no further use is allowed without the express written permission of the owner of this material. All corporate trademarks are the property of their respective owners.