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John Stewart

Bipartisan Recreation Land Exchange Bill a Success

Historically, this riding area was a mix of Forest Service and BLM lands and was sort of being co-managed by both agencies. Both agencies have similar yet significantly different management rules and regulations when it comes to OHV recreation, including permitted motorized events. This regulatory confusion often detracted from this destination OHV area.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, "On a recent tour with BLM staff, I was impressed by how the land exchange bill has already changed the tone and direction at the Chappie-Shasta OHV Area. I think it allows the BLM to more effectively manage and maintain the OHV trail and road system on the unit."

"I think this bill is a good model or case study of how local users working with their elected officials can impact land-management in an area. Wilderness advocates got almost 5,000 acres added to Forest Service non-motorized units near Weaverville and motorized recreationists are seeing improved BLM opportunities near Redding," Amador stated.

"The Chappie-Shasta OHV Area offers a diverse range of motorized opportunities for dirt-bikes, ATVs, and ROVs. There are many scenic outlooks that include views of Shasta Lake, Mount Shasta, and the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area. H.R. 689 has truly improved this area and is a tribute to those who worked hard to get this bill enacted," Amador concludes.

Congressman Wally Herger said, "I have long been a supporter of ensuring that our federal lands are fully open to recreation and all forms of multiple-use. Particularly as the Forest Service seeks to greatly restrict OHV use on National Forests throughout California, I was very pleased to work with Senator Feinstein to enact this common sense legislation to consolidate management of the Chappie-Shasta Off-Highway Vehicle Area under the Bureau of Land Management. I will continue doing all I can to support this widely-enjoyed and appropriate use of our federal lands."

Link to Chappie-Shasta OHV Area

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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, 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


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John Stewart

Popular Archaeological Site Vandalized

“This senseless act not only damaged the fragile rock art, it degraded a special place enjoyed by several thousand visitors each year,” said Kaibab archaeologist Neil Weintraub.

The petroglyphs are protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.    Since the vandalism was reported, the Forest Service has assessed and documented the damage and initiated an educational campaign to protect this valuable resource.  

Individuals with information regarding this incident can contact Martie Schramm, Williams District Ranger, at (928) 635-5630.

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John Stewart

Recreation Groups challenge the Forest’s recent and ongoing actions

We appreciated the opportunity to participate in the planning process and craft solutions that maintain recreation opportunity while protecting the environment.” said John Stewart, Natural Resource Consultant for California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs. “These arbitrary actions with a significant impact to the environment were done outside the planning process.”

The planning process requires the federal agencies to conduct their actions in an open and transparent manner with a full and fair discussion of environmental impacts of the proposed action.

National Environmental Policy Act requires the agencies to disclose the environmental effects of their actions. Stewart noted, “The actions of using heavy equipment to intentionally conduct ground-disturbing activities is a significant impact requiring public review. In this case, that review was not done.”

The law suit states that Six Rivers officials authorized ground-disturbing activities which caused erosion and sediment-laden runoff into the watershed. These activities occurred in the absence of legally-required analysis of potential environmental impacts connected to such actions.

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John Stewart


"This is a logical and necessary action in our effort to restore some form of meaningful OHV access to the System," said Roger Theurer, President of Southern Four Wheel Drive Association.  "The entire premise behind this closure- that water quality is uniquely flawed in the Tellico River- is simply untrue.  We hope through this suit for an opportunity to present the full story," Theurer concluded.

On April 19, 2010, the Forest Service posted a solicitation for bids, seeking contractors to perform various tasks to rehabilitate, obliterate, or otherwise decommission the bulk of existing roads on the OHV System.  According to the complaint, routes historically used for vehicle travel may be fundamental to other forms of recreation, and possible impacts on non-motorized recreation activities have not been analyzed by the Forest.

"We prefer to work collaboratively with the Forest to provide appropriate vehicle-based recreation opportunities in the area," observed Greg Mumm, BlueRibbon Executive Director.  "We remain committed to such prospects, but faced little option short of filing suit to preserve reasonable alternatives involving the System.  These roads are literally on the verge of being removed from the landscape," Mumm concluded.

A copy of the complaint may be viewed at: http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/Complaint_FILED_05-18-10.pdf

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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

United Four Wheel Drive Associations is an international organization comprised of four wheel drive enthusiasts, clubs, associations, and businesses dedicated to providing community services around the world, education in responsible land use and safe vehicle operation, and protection of our natural resources through conservation practices. 1-800-448-3932. www.ufwda.org

Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA) was founded in 1987 to promote responsible land use and to keep public lands accessible for motorized recreation.  For more information on the activities and accomplishments of Southern Four Wheel Drive Association, please visit www.sfwda.org or contact us at 1483 N. Mt. Juliet Road, PMB # 222, Mt. Juliet, TN 37122

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John Stewart

The Monumental Problem with the "Treasured Landscapes" Memo

H.R. Res. 1254 was introduced by Rep. Hastings and Bishop because the Department of the Interior (DOI) was not forthcoming with supplying information to the Congress surrounding the set of recommendations for Treasured Landscapes and for the potential designation of National Monuments under the Antiquities Act.  Less than 24 hours before the vote was to take place in the committee, the Department of the Interior released 383 pages of documents and indicated it was withholding at least 2,016 pages of other documents.  Many of the documents released were emails between Administration principals discussing treasured landscapes; however, the attachments to the emails were mostly left undisclosed.  These attachments, including one called "Treasured Landscapes Discussion Paper," likely have more substantive information about what was actually being considered yet they have not been released.

This whole controversy started when pages 15-21 of an internal (Not for Release) DOI memorandum was leaked.   The partial memorandum documented that talks were ongoing within the Administration regarding the possibility of creating at least 14 additional National Monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act.  Secretary Salazar immediately characterized the document as simply a memo that came out of a "brainstorming session" within the Department. 

At a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Secretary Salazar responded to a question about whether these plans were being pursued at the request of the White House, by saying, "Let me assure you there is no direction from the White House on any of this for the Department of Interior.  Zero, nada, nothing. It just isn't there."

The documents released on May 4th provide a glimpse into the internal workings of the Department of the Interior and the preparatory work surrounding the potential designation of Treasured Landscapes and new National Monument areas. It seems like a more far reaching effort than a simple "brainstorming session."  Rather, the work extended over a period of several months and the federal agencies involved in the preparatory work included the Bureau of Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation.

The documents that DOI recently released make it clear that White House involvement either existed or was about to exist at some stage of the monument issue.  We are not suggesting that White House involvement is inappropriate.  After all, the President does head up our Executive Branch.  And under the Antiquities Act, it is the President who would make any National Monument designation.  Further, there is evidence that national environmental groups were solicited for designation ideas as well, so the Secretary's description of simple "brainstorming session" seems more like a full fledged planning process.

The Department's release of 328 pages of documents relating to the "Treasured Landscape" memo has created more questions than answers. 
* For example, why is DOI still refusing to release pages 1-14 of the original memorandum? 
* What could possibly be contained in those first 14 pages that the Department doesn't want to see the light of day?
* Were there pages of the original memo after page 22 that have yet to be released? 
* How extensive was the effort to involve environmental groups in developing these ideas?
* Why is the Department saying it is not obligated under the Freedom of Information Act to release 2,000 other pages of related documents to the Congress?  
* How could a little "brainstorming" session generated almost 2,500 pages of documents?
* Why haven't the attachments to many of the emails been released?
* Designating National Monuments clearly has nothing to do with national security so why the secrecy? 
* What could possibly be in these other documents that might prove embarrassing if one is to believe the Secretary that the original memo was simply the result of a "brainstorming session" in the Department?

In the coming weeks, ARRA will continue to focus on this story. 


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