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John Stewart

Giant Sequoia Inventory Scheduled

Volunteers needed to help with inventory

The Sequoia National Forest is beginning the inventory of the giant sequoia groves located on the Giant Sequoia National Monument.  This inventory will complete an existing inventory that began in 1998 but was never finalized.  The information from this inventory will update the information we have collected over the years regarding overall the number and type of trees in giant sequoia groves, the size of these trees, the fuel-buildup of small and dead trees in giant sequoia groves, and the makeup of vegetation for wildlife habitat in these groves.

It has taken many years for the forest to be able to obtain funding to complete this inventory, originally identified as a desired goal in the 1990 Mediated Settlement Agreement that provided interim direction for the Sequoia National Forest under the 1988 Sequoia National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.  The Forest inventoried approximately half (50%) of the giant sequoia groves from 1998 to 2004 before stopping the inventory project.  Funding to complete the inventory was not obtained until this year.  Completing the giant sequoia inventory will provide information that will be utilized as we develop the Giant Sequoia Environmental Impact Statement and subsequent management plan.  It is important the Forest accomplish the giant sequoia grove inventory for the Giant Sequoia National Monument Plan this year.

The 2000 Presidential Proclamation for the establishment of the Giant Sequoia National Monument acknowledged the occurrence of many diverse objects of interest and listed special concerns deemed critical for management within the monument.  The concerns focused on the lack of sequoia regeneration and the buildup of surface fuels – both of which could threaten the longevity of giant sequoia ecosystems.  

There are 33 giant sequoia groves on the Giant Sequoia National Monument totaling approximately 20,000 acres.  Half the acres (13,711) of groves within the monument have had a vegetation and fuels inventory (conducted from 1998 to 2004).  The groves with a current inventory include:  Mountain Home, Deer Creek, Packsaddle, Long Meadow, Red Hill, Peyrone, Black Mountain, Alder Creek, Starvation, Powderhorn, Big Stump, Cherry Gap, Converse Basin, Grant, Indian Basin, Landslide, and Redwood Mountain.  This inventory followed the Region 5 (California) Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) format and collected information on all trees by size, numbers, and distribution using systematic cluster plot sampling.  Regeneration plots were taken simultaneously with large tree plots at the same spacing.  These plots avoided open and disturbed areas where larger trees were not expected.  This meant sampling was often inadequate to fully assess the distribution and quantity of smaller giant sequoia regeneration.  Photo series were used to estimate fuels conditions.  This data is currently not in the National Resource Information
 Interested Public System (NRIS) Field Sampled Vegetation (FSVeg) format (a database and modeling system used in California) and will need to be entered remotely and by hand by the forest in order for processing to occur using the current information system programs.  

An additional 14,204 acres of groves have no current useable inventory since the original inventory was stopped in 2004.  This means the Sequoia National Forest has no complete and accurate estimate of the amount of sequoia regeneration, fuels buildup, and identification of large trees in half the groves in the monument.  

Over the past year, there has been a strong and urgent need from both external and internal interests to learn, at a minimum, how much surface and ladder fuels exist in giant sequoia groves, how much giant sequoia regeneration is occurring, or how many large giant sequoias exist within the groves.  The forest and the public have seen a need to finish the original inventory.

Other information that could be collected in a field examination will also help satisfy the need for information about ecosystem processes and other objects of interest.  This information will be used to support the planning process and better manage the monument.

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John Stewart

Forest Service Urges Caution

Be Safe on our National Forests: What to do if you Encounter a Marijuana Cultivation Site

VALLEJO, Calif., May 06, 2009—As the summer approaches, the marijuana cultivation season will begin and it is especially important to be aware of your surroundings on national forests.

Marijuana growers will be active on the national forests from now until usually the end of October. Here are some clues that you may have come across a site:

  • The smell of marijuana especially on hot days is like a skunk.
  • Hoses or drip lines located in unusual or unexpected places.
  • A well used trail where there shouldn’t be one.
  • Voices coming from an unusual place.
  • People standing along roads without vehicles present, or in areas where loitering appears unusual.
  • Usually plantations are found in isolated locations; in rough steep terrains (typically between 500 to 5500 elevation).
  • Camps containing cooking and sleeping areas with food.
  • Small propane bottles (so the grower can avoid detection of wood smoke).
  • Fertilizer, weapons, garbage, dead animals.
  • Individuals armed with rifles out of hunting season.

As soon as you become aware that you have entered a cultivation site, or have encountered any of the above listed situations, immediately reduce the threat by removing yourself from the area. Walk, crawl or run out the way you came in and make as little noise as possible. The growers may be present, and may or may not know that you have found their operation.

As soon as possible, contact your nearest Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer or Deputy and report as much detail about the incident as you can recall. Please contact Acting Special Agent in Charge, Laura Mark at (707) 562-8648 for more information.

Over seven million plants have been seized off California National Forest System lands since 2003.

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John Stewart

Professionals for Managed Recreation Formed

Group Comprised of Retired Federal Land Managers Supports Sustainable Recreation

Washington, D.C., May 5, 2009 - A new group, Professionals for Managed Recreation (PMR), has been formed to promote environmentally sustainable, managed recreation.  PMR is comprised of retired land management officials who favor access for managed, responsible motorized recreation on public lands. Each of the officials has extensive experience in successfully managing off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation on a National Forest and/or Bureau of Land Management unit.

The new group's mission statement is, "Professionals for Managed Recreation is committed to encouraging, promoting and expanding sustainable OHV recreation through training, advocacy and on-the-ground management activities.  PMR's website is hosted by Americans for Responsible Recreational Access and can be found here: http://www.arra-access.com/arra/pmr-home.html.

Tom Crimmins, lead PMR spokesman and retired Forest Service official of 32 years, stated, "Professionals for Managed Recreation presents an opportunity to convey that with proper management, OHV trail systems can be fun, challenging, and most importantly, sustainable."

Crimmins authored Management Guidelines for Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation, which can be downloaded from the PMR website for free.  The book discusses approaches to OHV recreation management to meet both land manager and rider objectives.  Topics addressed include route planning, trail design and active management, with many specific examples.

Currently, four other retired land managers join Crimmins as members of PMR.  Crimmins stated, "We have a great core of experienced land managers who have all successfully managed OHV programs on public lands.  We know there are more folks like us out there who, by definition, are retired but remain actively engaged in promoting sustainable management techniques, and we encourage them to be a part of PMR."

Crimmins concluded, "Closure is not the only option for land managers dealing with OHV recreation.  In fact in nearly every case responsible, active management is the real solution.  Each member of PMR has experience in managing sustainable OHV trail systems and it is that experience that we would like to share."
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John Stewart

Temporary Stay on Lead in ATVs Released


IRVINE, Calif., May 4, 2009 –The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) issued the following statement in response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) release of a Federal Register notice on a Stay of Enforcement for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and motorcycles from the new lead content limits contained in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA):

"MIC and SVIA thank CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord and Commissioner Thomas Moore for attempting to get youth model ATVs and motorcycles back on showroom floors, and for acknowledging that the current ban on youth model ATVs and motorcycles creates a compelling safety issue because it likely will result in children 12 years of age and younger riding larger and faster adult-size vehicles, while, as the CPSC's staff scientists acknowledge, the presence of lead in metal alloys in these youth models does not present a health hazard to children. The Commission also acknowledges that children riding these vehicles only interact with a limited number of metal component parts that might contain small amounts of lead, like brake and clutch levers, throttle controls, and tire valve stems.

However, although the Commissioners' intentions are laudable, it is clear that the stay of enforcement as drafted is a temporary stop-gap measure with conditions largely unrelated to safety. It does not and cannot end the ban on these vehicles. Due to the highly restrictive language of the CPSIA and the fact that the CPSC is not the only agency responsible for enforcing the law, this stay of enforcement is simply inadequate in legal terms and leaves the industry vulnerable to lawsuits and actions by federal and state agencies.

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John Stewart

Massive Wilderness Sounds Alarm in Land Use Debate

H.R. 980 was first introduced in 1993 by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and proposes to designate 24 million acres of Wilderness across five Western states, (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming).  The bill has also been described as the modern incarnation of the Wildlands Project, an ambitious proposal first conceived by Dave Foreman, the co-founder of Earth First!. The Wildlands Project would "re-wild" approximately half of North America by outlawing most human use and occupancy.

NREPA was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and is scheduled for a hearing on May 5, by the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=58

Brian Hawthorne, BRC's Public Lands Policy Director, speculated that NREPA was moving up as a priority for recreation advocacy groups, including mountain bike and sporting conservation groups, perhaps because the growing influence of the green lobby on decision-makers in Washington DC.  "We don't know if the Wilderness lobby really thinks Congress will let eastern politicians draw lines on maps around lands they've never seen, or if this is a strategic ploy to make smaller scale proposals seem reasonable by comparison. Either way, the recreating public should be on high alert," observed Hawthorne.

BRC is urging its members to contact their legislators and express opposition to the passage of NREPA and has provided a portal on their website to easily contact legislators. http://www.sharetrails.org/rapid_response/

BRC is also cautioning its members not to let the hearing on NREPA distract their attention from equally serious threats to access to other public lands. In an email to members today the Coalition stated, "NREPA is perhaps the largest threat to public access to public lands pending in Congress today. However, our members must remember that large, multi-state Wilderness bills are very difficult to pass and there are many smaller bills, each equally unfair in denying public access that need immediate attention by our members and supporters."

A few of the smaller initiatives mentioned by the Coalition were:

H.R.1769 & S. 721 -Alpine Lakes Wilderness expansion in the State of Washington
Mojave Desert Wilderness bill - Senator Feinstein's effort to designate more Wilderness in San Bernardino, Imperial, and Riverside counties
H.R.192 Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), will designate an additional half million acres of Wilderness in Idaho
Montana's Beaverhead-Deerlodge Conservation, Restoration and Stewardship Act
Legislation to designate Johnson Valley a National Recreation Area (BRC is supporting this one!)
SUWA'S massive Utah Wilderness bill (H.R.1925 and S.799)
The ongoing county-by-county Wilderness approach currently underway in Nevada, Colorado and Utah
For further updates on these and other issues, visit BRC's webpage at www.sharetrails.org.

# # #

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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