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John Stewart

Forest Jobs and Recreation Act - A Teachable Wilderness Bill

Here's why: the jobs in Tester's jobs bill do NOT hinge on the legislation actually opening up lands that are otherwise closed today for logging. Although maps and other "PR" try to make it seem otherwise, the legislation is very clear on this point. Any logging or forest health jobs resulting from this bill are already permitted today, either via an existing Forest Plan or via legislation already passed into law.

The essence of Tester's bill is an attempt to force the Forest Service to follow through with existing plans that allow logging, and also attempts to limit environmental groups' ability to challenge them.

It is no longer a joke to say it takes an act of Congress to cut timber in Montana.

I don't know if I could have created a better example of how gridlocked the agency is in management, or how these "environmental" groups sue at the drop of a hat. That it requires legislation to log a paltry 70 thousand acres over 10 years is a sad indication of how broken our system of public lands management is.

Read more of Forest Jobs and Recreation Act - A Teachable Wilderness Bill from the BlueRibbon Coalition

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John Stewart

Riding Ban in Utah Proposed

The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York, would ban motorized recreation on 9.4 million acres of public land in Utah by inappropriately designating it as Wilderness.

The devastating proposal would impact the Moab, San Rafael Swell and Chimney Rock riding areas, among others.

"The measure is totally unreasonable and completely unacceptable," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "Continued responsible access to public lands is a vitally important right for current and future generations.

"This is just the latest step in a massive land grab being orchestrated nationwide by anti-access forces who are seeking to eliminate responsible off-highway riding on public lands by any means necessary," Moreland said. "They want to turn all public land into their own exclusive playground.

"It's important to note that this legislation would make sweeping changes to existing riding areas despite the fact that much of the land to be classified as Wilderness is already managed by federal agencies through local processes and decisions," Moreland added. "The best management of public lands is through local input, and the fact that a member of Congress from New York is proposing closing land in a state where none of that state's own representatives support the bill makes this measure even more unfair to those who live and recreate in Utah."

In 1964, Congress approved the National Wilderness Act that essentially set the criteria for designating land for Wilderness protection. That law was to preserve land that "generally appears to have been affected primarily by the force of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticed."

The law led to a nationwide survey of public land to determine whether it should be designated as Wilderness. Since 1964, some 107 million acres nationwide have earned the designation.

"The AMA strongly supports properly designated Wilderness areas," Moreland said. "But anti-access opportunists who oppose off-highway riding are misapplying the intent of Wilderness as a means to push responsible riders off our nation's public lands. It is a disturbing trend that, if allowed to continue, may ultimately spell the demise of responsible motorized recreation on public lands. Indeed, as we speak, there are about a dozen Wilderness bills being considered on Capitol Hill that would close about 36 million acres to off-highway riding. It's patently unfair that so many appropriate off-highway riding areas are being taken away without additional new opportunities being introduced."

Earlier this year, Congress fast-tracked a bill with little public input that President Obama then signed into law to designate as Wilderness some 2 million acres in several states nationwide.

"So with the stroke of a pen, off-highway riding was banned forever, and even more public land is threatened now with closure," said Moreland.

All riders who want to take action on this matter can immediately contact their federal lawmakers by selecting the Issues and Legislation link in the Rights section of the AMA website at AmericanMotorcyclist.com.

Source: American Motorcyclist Association

 

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John Stewart

TREAD LIGHTLY! STEPS UP OHV EDUCATION EFFORTS WITH MAJOR GRANT FROM YAMAHA

The Respected Access movement, initially created at the request of the Federal Lands Hunting and Shooting Sports Roundtable, is an education and outreach campaign designed to promote outdoor ethics in the hunting and shooting community through a multi-faceted marketing campaign.  Yamaha has dedicated $10,000 toward the development of the respectedaccess.org website.  The website is a central component of the campaign and will include recreation tips, public service announcements and other downloadable resources.  The 2009 GRANT complements an initial $10,000 provided in 2008 by Yamaha to design and develop the Respected Access education and outreach partnership.  Data from the internationally renowned research group, Responsive Management Institute, was used in development.

"The mission of the Yamaha OHV Access Initiative aligns closely with the nationally-recognized work of Tread Lightly!, creating a mandate for our alliance," said Mike Martinez, Yamaha’s general manager of ATV and Side-by-Side Operations.  "Responsible OHV riders demonstrate a strong commitment to land stewardship.  Tread Lightly!'s programs support the OHV community's ability to enjoy the outdoors with respect on a national level."

The Respected Access website will be available to the public in October, 2009.

Yamaha funds will support the design of a template for a new travel map that will simplify information from the U.S. Forest Visitor's Use Map by incorporating both motorized and non-motorized travel information, as well as Tread Lightly!'s outdoor ethic.  Initially, this user-friendly public traveler map will be customized and printed for the four districts on the Eldorado National Forest in California.

An important tool in promoting responsible recreation, the maps will educate recreationists to trail designations, area restrictions, and information about local natural resources.  Developed with national application in mind, the traveler map design will be a blueprint for other Forests to utilize.

"When people have high quality information they make better choices," said Ms. McCullough.  "Yamaha’s involvement in creating these easy-to-follow maps is a natural fit with their efforts to further educate the OHV community about responsible practices while recreating."

Yamaha also contributed a Grizzly utility ATV in support of Tread Lightly!’s annual fundraising auction on eBay.  By donating the popular ATV, Yamaha  increased attention and contributions Tread Lightly! relies upon for its education and stewardship programs. 

Yamaha has been a long-time Official Partner of Tread Lightly!, giving annual contributions toward sustaining the nonprofit organization in its mission of promoting responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship.
About Tread Lightly!
Tread Lightly!, Inc. is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to promote responsible recreation through ethics education and stewardship.  Recognized as the nation’s signature outdoor ethic, Tread Lightly!’s educational message, along with its training and restoration initiatives are strategically designed to instill an ethic of responsibility in a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts and the industries that serve them.  The program is long-term in scope with a goal to balance the needs of people who enjoy outdoor recreation with our need to maintain a healthy environment.  With a niche focusing on motorized recreation, Tread Lightly! offers unique programs and services to help remedy current recreation issues.

About the Yamaha OHV Access Initiative
Each quarter, Yamaha accepts applications from non-profit or tax-exempt organizations including OHV riding clubs, national forests and associations, and national, state and local government agencies. A committee then reviews each application and awards GRANTs to deserving projects.

Examples of appropriate projects for GRANTs include, but are not limited to:
Trail development, restoration and maintenance
Trail signage and map production
Staging area construction, renovation and maintenance
Land stewardship, trail safety and education

Updated guidelines, an application form and information on the OHV Access Initiative are available at the newly redesigned web site: www.yamaha-motor.com/ohvaccess. For specific questions about the OHV Access Initiative, call Yamaha’s dedicated OHV Access Initiative Hotline at 1-877-OHV-TRAIL (877-648-8724), email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or write to: Yamaha OHV Access Initiative Review Committee, 6555 Katella Avenue, Cypress, CA 90630-5101.

 

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John Stewart

RTF Issues Little Sluice Position

In 1992, the first large boulder was rolled in to the Little Sluice. No agency action was taken in response to it or to subsequent events in Little Sluice until the County, in cooperation with the Forest Service and private property owners, closed Spider Lake in 2004. Since then, few significant agency actions have taken place, and none have adequately managed the issues related to concentrated use of the Little Sluice area. The only agency to take positive action on the Rubicon Trail has been El Dorado County Department of Transportation (DOT). The Forest Service (USFS) has failed to implement its 2008 Route Designation and has signed the area adjacent to the Sluice more than 150 feet away from the trail. This failure to address parking and related camping has allowed continued unsustainable concentrated use near Little Sluice, in spite of strong efforts such as distributing WAG bags and spill kits; installation of new vault toilets at Loon Lake; outreach from the kiosks, roving trail patrol, and mid-trail staff; and internet-based education.

Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF) supports a full public process led by DOT to address unsustainable concentrated use near Little Sluice. Change is needed because of vegetative loss over the years (bushes), potential damage to the cypress tree, re-occurring vandalism, water shed impacts downstream, and risk of oil contamination in the Little Sluice. RTF believes that there is no single easy answer to the multiple challenges of Little Sluice and the immediate area around it and that at minimum, the following solutions must be considered:
* USFS to support NEPA processes for bathroom installations
* USFS to encourage sanitation via multiple solutions (not just personal sanitation solutions)
* EDSO and USFS to cooperate for law enforcement, with emphasis on enforcement against drinking and driving as well as prevention of off-trail travel
* Agencies to correctly place and enforce trail centerline and trail boundary signage to discourage off-trail travel
* Agencies to consider possible reroutes to mitigate environmentally untenable sections of the trail
* Agencies to plan implementation/education/enforcement to ensure that changes in one area don’t just divert impacts to other areas
* Any mitigation plan to include measures to protect the big cypress tree above Little Sluice

RTF is willing to consider any solution, up to and including reduction of rocks in Little Sluice, but believes this should not be the first or only option considered.  If agencies, organizations, and volunteers can come together, RTF believes solutions can be found that require less destructive management techniques.

Overall, RTF believes that successful intervention at/near Little Sluice will require a multi-pronged effort that coordinates agencies, organizations, and volunteers. RTF welcomes the opportunity to actively work within the public process along-side other members of the public – this is a public right-of-way, and we need to work together to identify specific goals and measurable outcomes.

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John Stewart

CCMA Closure Decision Challenged

The letter, signed by Paul Turcke, an attorney for the BlueRibbon Coalition, highlights a number of the documents obtained, such as a memo authored by BLM experts seeking underlying data and questioning methodology relied upon by the EPA in its May, 2008 report that forms the basis for BLM's closure of the CCMA. The BLM closed the area through an emergency order in conjunction with the release of the EPA Report in 2008, but has promised to reevaluate the report and all reasonable management options in an ongoing and more robust public planning process. This is expected to result in the release of a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) in 2009.

"The EIS range of alternatives is not the place to fully concur in or reject EPA's analysis, but is instead designed to allow BLM and the public to meaningfully consider and provide input upon possible management options," the letter concludes.

The draft EIS was previously scheduled for release in January 2009, but has been delayed several times.  After it is released, it will be subject to public comment and will undergo further review before BLM announces a final decision.

View document here:  http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/FOIA_CCMA_Turcke_Letter_July_8_2009_Final.pdf

# # #

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 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. http://www.sharetrails.org
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