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John Stewart

Proposed State Waiver Moves to Next Phase

The revised draft documents in the proposed State Waiver package can be viewed at: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/nps/wqmp_forests.shtml

Public comment on proposed changes to the State Waiver will be accepted until November 21, 2011.

After reviewing the changes to the proposed State Waiver, I believe all concerns submitted on behalf of CA4WDC have been adequately addressed. Specifically, the revision clearly articulates that NEPA review applies to all projects and activities initiated under the proposed State Waiver. In addition, clarification of State Categories A and B have been clarified with their relation to USFS “projects and activities”.

With the release of this revision of the proposed State Waiver, the SWRB has clearly noted that a CEQA Environmental Impact Report of the proposed State Waiver as supported by the environmental community and others is not warranted.

The "effect" of this action is that all National Forests in California will now have consistent guidelines dealing with water quality without having to submit each activity or project to the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board for approval.

The proposed State Waiver accepts the USFS Water Quality Management Handbook as the guide for the management activities such as road maintenance, grazing, mining, and all activities requiring a permit.

As long as projects comply with the guidance in the Handbook, they should proceed with no extra approval or review necessary. The Handbook, in existence since 2001, has been updated and defines actions to be used by Forest Service, contractors and permittees involved in activities or projects on National Forest lands within California.

Over a period of almost two years, stakeholders have held meetings discussing the Handbook content and the proposed State Waiver.  All documents have been circulated for public review and comment. Extensive legal review has been conducted by State Water Board and USFS to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.  I have been an active participant in all phases of the discussions and meetings on this topic as the statewide OHV representative selected by USFS staff.

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John Stewart

California County Petitions Congress to Designate Clear Creek as a National Recreation Area

The BlueRibbon Coalition during its presentation to the supervisors urged use of the 2005 Clear Creek Travel Management Plan as the guiding document for the NRA.  The Plan identified about 243 miles of motorized roads and trails, 400 acres of open riding areas and authorized a number of permitted OHV events.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, stated, "The San Benito County Board of Supervisors showed courage and determination today when they passed this Resolution asking Congress to bypass an unresponsive land agency.  The Board Chairman also said the Hollister Field Office continues to waste taxpayer funds by destroying existing OHV campgrounds."

Brian Hawthorne, Public Lands Policy Director for the BlueRibbon Coalition, said, "The public will not tolerate federal land managers using junk science to impose a political agenda.  And as more and more of our public lands are mismanaged, it is reasonable to assume the public will demand the sort of solution that San Benito County is proposing."

"I think we all understand the designation process could take several years. But left with the option of a permanent area closure, this legislative proposal is our only path," Amador concludes.

Link to Resolution
http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/San_Benito_County_Resolution_10.4.11.pdf

Link to June 22 Congressional Testimony that includes NRA proposal
http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/testimony-amador-written-ccma-06-22-11.pdf

# # #

The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib - www.sharetrails.org

 

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John Stewart

29 Palms Base expansion opposition efforts continue

The final base expansion EIS is scheduled for released in January 2012. Response to public comments will be included in the Final EIS, and the Marine Corps expressed first hand information that lead the group to believe that they are reading every one of the approximate 22,000 comments delivered to them during the comment period. The Final Record of Decision (ROD) is expected in April 2012.  From there, the EIS will be submitted to the Department of Interior and subsequent submission to Congress.  There is no estimated time frame for those actions.

The Marine Corps mission is to deliver a complete proposal to the Department of Defense regarding base expansion, and Alternative 6 (Expansion into the Johnson Valley OHV area) remains the preferred alternative. Chris Proudfoot represented the Marine Corps and expressed that due diligence regarding potential problems in Alternative 6 remained a priority for the Marine Corps. Seeing every problem within the preferred alternative, and management practices of the shared use area ranked as important issues for success.

What is the next step for the OHV community?

Each association in attendance will be reporting back to its membership, and Board of Directors to formulate its position. CAMRC hopes to coordinate this effort in a unified voice and direct its efforts to congress. The Marine Corps will execute its mission to completion, and deliver its findings to the Department of the Interior. The OHV community must now begin looking at spreading its message to members of congress and continue educating the public about this important issue.

CAMRC membership includes, The Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), California Association of 4 wheel Drive Clubs (Cal4Wheel), California Off-Highway Vehicle Association (CORVA), American Motorcyclists Association National (AMA), San Diego Off-Road Coalition (SDORC), American Sand Association (ASA), California Nevada Snow Mobile Association (CNSA) AMA D36, and AMA D37.

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John Stewart

Yellowstone will open to Snowmobiles for 2011-2012 this Winter Season!

Watch for more information at www.saveyellowstonepark.com

The information from the Park Service provides visitors, area businesses, and park employees with an outline they can use for the 2011-12 season.  Under the plan motorized oversnow access will continue this winter, just like last winter. Here is a quick summary of this coming season's rules.  Up to 318 commercially guided, Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles and up to 78 snowcoaches will be allowed per day in Yellowstone National Park.  Yellowstone's East Entrance and Sylvan Pass will be open for motorized and non-motorized over snow travel, subject to weather and safety constraints.  Trail and off-road use of snowmobiles and snowcoaches has always been, and will continue to be, prohibited.

Another already completed special rule has been published that addresses snowmobile access in Grand Teton Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  Memorial Parkway, including access along Grassy Lake Road from Flagg Ranch to the National Forest and on Jackson Lake for licensed anglers.

In closing, I understand that the fight over Yellowstone has been a long, contentious and complicated battle.  We are now in the 13th year of our combined efforts to maintain snowmobile access to Yellowstone National Park.  Please remember, the fact that Yellowstone remains open to snowmobiles represents one of the most profound victories over the extreme environmental movement in our lifetime.  Enjoy the victory and make your plans to come and enjoy Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks this winter on a snowmobile!

Note: As additional information on items covered in this summary are announced by the Park Service they will be posted at our dedicated website of www.saveyellowstonepark.com

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John Stewart

Revised Recovery Plan for the Mojave Desert Tortoise Released

An electronic copy of the revised recovery plan is available at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/recovery-plans.html. Alternatively, the revised recovery plan and reference materials are available by appointment, during normal business hours, at the following location:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office
1340 Financial Boulevard, Suite 234
Reno, NV 89502

(telephone: 775-861-6300).

Requests for copies of the revised recovery plan should be addressed to the State Supervisor at the above address.

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