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Public Comment Period on Proposed Park and Refuge Firearm Regulations

“The safety and protection of park and refuge visitors remains a top priority for the Department of the Interior,” said Secretary Kempthorne. “The proposed regulations will incorporate current state laws authorizing the possession of concealed firearms, while continuing to maintain important provisions to ensure visitor safety and resource protection.”

On February 22, 2008, Secretary Kempthorne responded to letters from 51 Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, urging him to update existing regulations which prohibit the carrying of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. In his response, the Secretary directed Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Lyle Laverty “to develop and propose for public comment by April 30 Federal regulations that will update firearms policies on these lands to reflect existing Federal laws (such as those prohibiting weapons in Federal buildings) and the laws by which the host states govern transporting and carrying of firearms on their analogous public lands.”

The regulations, as currently in effect, were adopted in 1981 for national wildlife refuges and 1983 for national parks. Since that time many states have enacted new firearms policies. Currently, 48 states have passed legislation allowing for the lawful possession of concealed weapons.

“The original regulations, last substantially updated in the early 1980’s, were enacted over 25 years ago and much has changed in how states administer their firearm laws in that time,” said Assistant Secretary Lyle Laverty. “We strongly endorse the principle that states have the prerogative to develop appropriate policies and standards in this area, and believe that our management of parks and refuges should defer to those state laws.”

Once the public comment period has closed, all comments received will be evaluated and incorporated into the decision making process on a final rule. The number and substance of the comments received will determine the timeline for the final decision.

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John Stewart

ELDORADO FOREST RELEASES LONG-AWAITED TRAVEL PLAN


Supervisor Villalvazo stressed at the meeting that this base route network is a beginning and a foundation for future travel planning on the Forest. He also made a commitment to a volunteer trail program and to work with the recreation community to provide a quality recreational experience on the Forest. Villalvazo specifically noted that his office would continue to work with El Dorado County in developing a master plan for
the world-famous Rubicon 4WD Trail.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, observed, "There is certainly frustration by the OHV community regarding the significant reduction from routes historically used and maintained by the Forest. However, we recognize the thankless position of current personnel who inherited a regulatory 'perfect storm' fraught with misinterpretation of rules, regulations and the court order."

"This product is far from perfect, but many users will appreciate the agency's effort to provide for meaningful trail mileage, to reduce the wet weather closure period, and to commit to working with the OHV community and other publics on the implementation and improvement of the plan," Amador concluded.

Due to the various appeal and administrative time-lines associated with this project, implementation of the decision will likely not occur until January 2009.

The recreation groups at the meeting included Friends of the Rubicon, California Enduro Riders Association, American Motorcyclist Association District 36, El Dorado Equestrian Trails Foundation, California Off Road Vehicle Association, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, and the BlueRibbon Coalition, all of whom have been active in the administrative process and prior litigation addressing Eldorado travel management.

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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. www.sharetrails.org
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John Stewart

Truckhaven to remain open

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Truckhaven off-road area used by off-roaders since 1950’s will again be open for world class events

BAKERSFIELD, CA (September 07, 2007) In January of 2007 the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Desert Protective Council (DPC) filed a lawsuit claiming that the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) purchased the Truckhaven property without completing the environmental reviews required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). As a result, the special permits required to use the property for events were suspended. An agreement has been reached by the parties involved that will allow State Parks to issue event permits in this area as long as the appropriate environmental reviews are completed.

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