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John Stewart

Horses and Cows Breathing Easier After College Cancels Firearm Safety Classes

The Los Angeles Daily News reports that the cancellation of an NRA Basic Pistol Course was achieved by the district's hasty adoption of a "Rule 2420," introduced by board of trustees member Scott Svonkin. The rule prohibits all firearms on campus, other than those carried by law enforcement personnel and those used for "theatrical performances."
 
We'll let Svonkin explain it for himself. "The one thing we wanted to prevent was Pierce College being the Wild Wild West. . . . By preventing guns on campus, I wanted to prevent people who took the class from shooting a horse or cow on campus."
Attorney C.D. Michel has filed suit on behalf of the safety class' instructor. As Michel details on his website, Svonkin freely admitted that his rule was targeted at the NRA. "Recently the Board of Trustees found out that on two of our campuses we had classes about guns being taught for the community with the support of the NRA," Svonkin said during a radio interview. "We did not want community members coming on campus to an NRA-supported class, if they were going to bring guns to demonstrate for these people from the community on how to use guns."
 
In a separate interview, Svonkin added, "I believe that the NRA's goal is to promote gun ownership, and that guns lead to death. So, not having the NRA teach classes, not having the NRA classes on our campuses, is a good thing . . . . I'm much happier with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department protecting our students and our staff and our faculty than having some random person who took a three-hour class and thinks that they're Dirty Harry."
 
Michel notes that the background section of Svonkin's rule attempts to justify the ban on the grounds that "[t]he presence of firearms, even when nonoperational and in the instructional setting, lends itself to the potential for panic and fear." But, as Michel further notes, since 2008, the NRA course has instructed over 660 students, mostly female without injury or incident or anyone erupting into "panic or fear." Also, while we enjoy the arts as much at the next person, we still don't understand why having actors potentially pointing firearms at each other during theatrical performances is okay in an academic setting, while having instructors detail their safe handling and use is not.
 
Like we said, there must be something in the water.
 
Posting courtesy of National Rifle Association
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John Stewart

Election Year Pontification

The Senate is a slow deliberative body that is prone to rhetorical discussion and seldom moves fast on any issue.

The House is a wildcard. They are up for re-election every two years and have a tendency to be more reactive to publicity issues of the day; especially if they can turn it into a vote.

State: (this a California, other states are similar)
Governor: Like the President, they can set an agenda and they do have a number of appointments that can have an impact on access/recreation.

Senate: A dysfunctional body that is prone to rhetorical discussion and little action. They are heavily influenced by special interests and public opinion polls.

Assembly: Another dysfunctional body that is more disconnected from reality than the Senate. They are prone to meaningless discussion and very responsive to special interests.

Local:
Mayor: Like the Governor and President, they do set an agenda. Interestingly, they are more in tune with the local economic issues and will seek to protect the county residents from excess liability.

Board of Supervisors: This is a mixed bag with a range of responsiveness. They are very sensitive to actions within their district that translate into economics that translate to votes.

Out of this are a couple of key points. At one level are elected officials that have the ability to set an agenda and place appointments to carry out the agenda.

The second point is the group of elected officials that are more sensitive to the public opinion that can be translated into votes.

In short, the Boards of Supervisors, Assembly, and Representatives are important positions as they are responsive to public pressure.

The Mayor, governor, and president are important as they set an agenda and placed appointees to carry out the agenda.

Out of this, the local Boards of Supervisors are one of the more important positions as they have an influence over federal actions that State legislators do not have.

Federal law requires the agency to consult with local officials on management actions that affect the local economy.

So, build a good relationship with your local Boards of Supervisors; especially in counties where recreation activities occur.  The closer to home your elected official is, the better accountability you will find.  Local elected officials can be motivated by economic impacts and limiting liability.

* Presidents, Governors, and Mayors set broad agendas and appoint staff that significantly impact access.
* At both state and federal levels, Congress/State Legislative bodies are reactive to change and public pressure.  Historically, the U.S. Senate is a slow deliberative bodywhere rhetoric flourishes.
* Local Boards of Supervisors are important because they can influance federal actions and are obligated to consider local economic impact.

And, That's My View.....

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John Stewart

Public Lands – For the Greater Public Good

 

National Parks and Monuments are set aside for scenic and historic preservation under management by the National Park Service (NPS), an agency within the Department of Interior.  Whether it is a Civil War battlefield such as Gettysburg National Monument, regions of natural scenic beauty and geologic importance such as Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks, the national parks and monuments are open for visiting by the public.

The majority of public lands are administered by the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture under the direct management of Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service.  Both agencies manage public lands for multiple use and wilderness under a variety of classifications.  Each classification of land use carries certain limitations of types of activity allowed.

National Forests are set aside for public use under the management concept of multiple use and sustained yield so that the public can gain the greatest combined benefits from the forests and managed by the Forest Service, an agency within the Department of Agriculture.  In 1905, the National Forest System consisted of 83 forest reserves encompassing 63 million acres.  In 2005, the National Forest System had increased to 155 National Forests and 20 National Grasslands encompassing 192 million acres.

The public benefits are in the form of timber for building and manufacturing as well as pulp for the paper industry.  Forests provide water farmers use to grow crops for food and to supply city residents with a safe supply of drinking water.  The forests also provide grazing lands for cattle and sheep as well as wildlife.

Beyond these uses are the recreational opportunities available to all visitors to the National Forest System lands.  Recreational opportunities include activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, skiing, bicycle riding, and gem and mineral collection.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers other large tracts of public lands. Mining of minerals for medical, food and industrial uses are managed by BLM.  Drilling and mining of oil, gas and coal is also managed by the BLM.  Like the National Forests, BLM managed lands are also a popular recreation destination, a 264-million acre backyard.

A major component of both Forest Service and BLM managed lands is “wilderness”.  The Wilderness Act of 1964 designated 9.1 million acres of wilderness – all of it within the National Forest System.  Since then, Congress has designated an additional 25.7 million acres of national forest as “wilderness”.  A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man is a visitor who does not remain.  An area of wilderness is further defined to mean an area retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation.  Wilderness is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions: conditions which generally appear to have been affected primarily by forces of nature and providing outstanding opportunities for solitude.

Wilderness is managed under the National Wilderness Preservation System by four federal agencies, Forest Service (34.9 million acres), BLM (7.3 million acres), NPS (43.6 million acres), and Fish and Wildlife Service (20.7 million acres).  The National Wilderness Preservation System contains 106,498,016 acres, an area slightly larger that the state of California, in 677 wilderness areas.  The smallest wilderness area, 5 acres, is Pelican Island, Florida while the largest (in the 48-states) is Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho (2,366,757 acres).

Two other related categories of land designations are wilderness study areas (WSAs) and “roadless areas”.  WSAs and roadless areas are areas that have been inventoried and found to have wilderness characteristics as described in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the Wilderness Act.

In 1976, Congress directed the BLM to evaluate all its remaining roadless areas for their wilderness potential according to the qualifications listed in the Wilderness Act of 1964: outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, features of scientific, historic, or scenic value, and little or no sign of human influence. The BLM manages over 620 WSAs covering about 15.7 million acres in all western states and Alaska.

Under separate direction, a similar evaluation of public lands was required of the Forest Service.  That evaluation identified 58.5 million acres of “roadless areas” in the National Forest System with potential “wilderness” characteristics.

These lands remain open to recreation, including dispersed camping, boating, fishing, hunting, and skiing, but are closed to motorized vehicles, except designated roads. Extractive uses, such as grazing, firewood collecting, and rockhounding are permitted according to existing rules, but new mines or oil wells are prohibited.

Federal agencies have recognized that motorized recreation is a viable activity on public lands where such use does not conflict with the land use designation.  In January 2001, BLM released “National Management Strategy for Motorized Off-highway Vehicle Use on Public Lands”.  This Strategy is aimed at recognizing the interests of motorized OHV users while protecting environmentally sensitive areas on the public lands.

In July 2004, Forest Service released for public comment their Draft National OHV Policy regarding a national approach to govern OHV and other motor vehicle use on national forests and grasslands.  That Policy became final during summer 2005.

These policies will provide guidance for motorized recreation access to millions of acres of public lands.

4x4Wire is an advocate for access to public lands for motorized recreation.  We promote family oriented responsible recreation.  We recognized the positive health and social benefits that can be achieved by through outdoor activities.  We also recognize that motorized recreation provides the small business owners in the local communities a significant financial stimulus.

4x4Wire subscribes to the concepts of: 1) public access to public lands for their children and grandchildren; 2) condition and safety of the environment; and 3) sharing our natural heritage.  The general public desires access to public lands now and for future generations.  Limiting access today deprives our children the opportunity to view the many natural wonders of public lands.  The general public is deeply concerned about the condition of the environment and personal safety.  They desire wildlife available for viewing and scenic vistas to enjoy.  They also want to feel safe while enjoying the natural wonders.  Lastly, the public desires to share the natural heritage with friends and family today as well as in the future.  How can our children learn and appreciate our natural heritage when native species are allowed to deteriorate and historic routes are routinely blocked or eradicated from existence?

Public lands – for the greater public good, is about your recreation opportunities.
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John Stewart

Dissecting the Omnibus Lands Bill

 

The Bureau of Land Management reports that 16% of the 607 million acres of land owned by the federal government is designated as wilderness in the form of 708 National Wilderness Areas located in the U.S. This bill adds over 80 new wilderness designations or additions to federal lands.

During Senate debate on S.22, Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK., noted: "We are not suffering from a lack of wilderness areas in the United States. According to the Census Bureau, we have 106 million acres of developed land and 107 million acres of (officially declared) wilderness land."

Recently released by the GreenInfo Network, the California Protected Area Database notes that slightly over 48% of the state of California is open space lands that have been protected for primarily open space.

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John Stewart

Election 2008 - Get some exercise

While the population is increasing, the population is also moving.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau study, there is a population shift from metropolitan-urban areas to rural areas.  This shift is giving rise to conflicting use of land.

On the positive side, the U.S. Forest Service is realigning their structure to accommodate the increased pressure for recreation.  Providing for increased recreation opportunity will be controlled by the need to protect the resources.

On the negative side, the population shift to rural areas is giving rise to the "forest-urban interface".  Within this context, the new residents of the rural areas bring their urban lifestyle and values.  Often, lifestyles and values that are in conflict with rural lifestyles and values.

As the population grows, so does the demand for outdoor recreation, especially motorized recreation.  In a 1960 outdoor recreation survey, OHV recreation was not listed.  From 1982 to 2000, OHV recreation became one of the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities.  In the spring of 2004, 49.6 million people (23.2% of the population) had participated in OHV activities within the previous 12 months.

As with the population shifts, more OHV recreationists (34.2%) are coming from urban areas.

As we move forward into the future, recreation opportunities will face new challenges.  Working through those challenges to preserve recreation opportunity will require a new vision for recreation that meshes with the changing and diverse demographics of the population.  It is about demographics, geography, lifestyle, and values.

The year 2008 is an important election year.  I encourage everyone to learn about your local candidates.  I encourage everyone to register to vote and get out to vote on election days during this important election cycle.  

Have you ever complained that your elected representatives do not care about your issues?  You can do something to change that.  It begins with YOU registering to vote and YOU casting your ballot at the polls.

Too busy to go to the poll??? Here are two good sites with that walk you through everything you need to know about Absentee Voting...

Go Vote Absentee -- http://www.govoteabsentee.org/

Long Distance Voter -- http://www.longdistancevoter.org/

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