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John Stewart

ARRA Newsletter - December 2008

Names are floating about as potential picks for Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture, but nothing is certain at this point, though we should know more by the middle of December. Until then, I refuse to worry about it. I can't change the weather; I certainly can't help the Redskins; I don't understand what's happening to the economy except a whole lot of people are losing their homes and jobs; and I don't have a clue what the President-elect is up to in terms of pulling his cabinet together. In other words, I'll have to wait to find out like the rest of America and then I will figure out how to deal with the news.

110th Congress Lame Duck Session
--------------------------------
The Lame Duck session met and after a few days, left town without much to brag about. When the Congress was in town, much attention was placed on the plight of the American auto industry and the millions of Americans whose livelihoods are dependent upon the financial health of these companies. The Detroit CEOs didn't do a very good job of explaining why they needed the bailout. For one thing, they didn't seem to have a coherent business plan on how they plan to turn their companies around. And then, the mode of transportation they used to get to Washington didn't help matters. Each CEO flew to town on his own corporate jet. Not an unusual circumstance, by any means, but maybe they should have considered "jet pooling" to Washington. I guess if you are a CEO you don't do that sort of thing. Congress returns again on December 8th and we will see the CEOs do a better job of justifying the need for the bailout. If they pass that road test, I expect Congress will approve the bailout before the Christmas holiday.

There is one positive note regarding the Lame Duck session. The Senate did not pass H.R. 5151, the massive public lands bill that many ARRA members oppose. Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, announced that the Senate did not have sufficient time to break the likely filibuster of Senator Tom Coburn. Reid also announced, however, that he intended to make the measure a priority in the early days of the 111th Congress. With Senate Democrats enjoying a larger majority in the new Congress, Senator Coburn may have more difficulty stopping Senate passage. Also, it's likely that the new President will sign the legislation, so Senator Reid's decision to pull back and wait until next year probably makes sense from their perspective. ARRA, along with a large number of other organizations, will continue to oppose the passage of this legislation.

Fewer Visitors to our National Forests
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A recent study by the U. S. Forest Service shows that fewer Americans are using their National Forests as a venue for recreation. Forest Service officials seem to be surprised by this news and uncertain as to why this is the case. The statistics are startling. In 2004, total forest visits were 204.8 million. In 2007, that number dropped to 178.6 million visits, a 13% decline.

Obviously, there are a number of factors contributing to the problem. Part of the decline may stem from our change of lifestyle including the amount of time we all spend in front of a computer or television screen. It's just a fact of life that people spend less time outside.

Some years ago, the National Park Service was alarmed by the drop-off in visitors to the National Parks under its jurisdiction. We wrote about this phenomenon back in May, 2006. During the course of a Congressional oversight hearing on the subject, one of the reasons cited for the decline was that the National Park Service had developed a reputation of being unfriendly towards park visitors. It's a simple thing, if the welcome sign isn't out, people won't come.

The Forest Service faces a similar dilemma. Policymakers are busy designating millions of acres of our National Forests as wilderness areas making access to those areas more difficult. Then, several years ago, the Forest Service decided to go to a designated trail system for OHV recreation when it promulgated the Travel Management Rule. We supported that rule because we felt that a designated trail system made sense. We also said at the time that the implementation process associated with the design of a trail system was critical in making the policy a success. Gaining public input on where those trails should be would ensure that people would want to continue to visit our National Forests for recreational activities.

We were concerned at the time that the local forest districts lacked adequate funding for the implementation phase of the rule. Forest supervisors were told to find the money by re-programming funds from other programs. Some found the money and others didn't, but all operated under the same strict timetable for completing the designation process - which is slated for December, 2009. Time will tell whether OHV enthusiasts are turned off or turned on by what they find as designated trail system for OHV recreation. If they are turned off, visitation to our National Forests will decline further. Let's hope this is not the case.

Looking to 2009
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The best thing about the New Year is that it arbitrarily marks a time for new beginnings. The clock doesn't stop; it simply slips into another demarcation for the recording of the passage of time. 2008 has been a tough year for many Americans and here's wishing that the New Year brings better economic times for all.

With a change in Administration and Congress, OHV recreation will be met with new challenges. I think we have a very positive story to tell about responsible recreation and all the good things that OHV enthusiasts do in their communities and on public lands. Our detractors aren't going to tell the good stories, only the bad ones. It's up to us to keep the record straight. Join us in 2009 in meeting this challenge.

Until then, please enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

Sincerely,

Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access

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John Stewart

ARRA Newsletter - November 2008

We will have to wait and see who the President-elect nominates to head up the Department of Agriculture (Forest Service) and the Department of the Interior (BLM and the National Park Service) to get a sense of the philosophical bent of his federal land managers. I think there is no question that OHV recreation will be on the defensive more than ever, and our approach to responsible recreation and stronger enforcement will be all the more important in the coming years. I remain optimistic that OHV recreation has a good story to tell. I also know that the burden will be on us to tell that story to the Congress and to the policymakers of the Obama Administration if we want to keep our access to federal lands.

We have to acknowledge that Obama was elected to office, in part, by people who generally are not considered OHV enthusiasts. We should assume, therefore, that these individuals and groups will lobby the new Administration to place further curbs on OHV recreation. We can no longer take anything for granted. Our future is what we make of it. If we fall short, then we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

In the coming weeks, as we get a clearer picture of what an Obama Administration means for OHV recreation, we will be in touch with ARRA members. A new era in American politics is about to begin and we stand ready to meet those new challenges that now stand before us.

Lame Duck Session
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Congress returns to Washington next week and for some of its members, the time here will be bittersweet. Some are retiring on their own accord. Others are also retiring, but the decision wasn't theirs, it was made by their constituents. However, before they pack up their offices and leave Capitol Hill for good, some agenda items remain. For one thing, the Democratic leadership may try to bring up another economic stimulus package in hopes that it will lend additional assistance to those sectors of our economy in serious distress. Outlines of the proposed package have yet to be revealed so it's difficult to know whether this is a good thing to take on now or whether this is something that should be deferred until the new Congress and the Obama Administration take office in January, 2009.

The other unfinished business in the Senate is consideration of the infamous H. R. 5151, legislation that incorporates almost 150 separate measures including wilderness designations, national park expansion initiatives, water bills, historical designations, and not to be forgotten, the 26 million-acre National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) legislation. H.R. 5151 seems to have something in it for every conceivable political entity in the U. S. Congress. It is so sweeping in magnitude, it should die of its own weight, but it hasn't. H.R. 5151 should definitely be deferred until 2009 and perhaps, forever.

Once again, we ask you to contact your Senators and urge them to oppose passage of H. R. 5151. Contact them today, because this measure could be up for a Senate floor vote as early as November 17th. You can do so by visiting http://www.arra-access.com/ct/Q1zUY291bYyp/.

National Recreation Groups Meet on Land Use Issues
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ARRA met with the leaders of 9 other national OHV recreation organizations in Las Vegas on November 6 to discuss a variety of land use issues affecting OHV recreation. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Specialty Equipment Mark Association (SEMA) annual convention.

Stakeholder organizations represented at the meeting included the American Council of Snowmobile Associations, the American Motorcyclist Association, ARRA, the BlueRibbon Coalition, the Motorcycle Industry Council, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, the Off-Road Business Association, the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, and Tread Lightly!

This was the third time in 2008 that these groups have met. While we all have different approaches to solving public policy issues, we find it is helpful to meet, kick around ideas, and see where we agree and disagree. At this meeting, we focused on the 2008 election results and new challenges facing OHV recreation in the 111th Congress including the very important reauthorization of the Recreational Trails Program.

Trying Times
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During the past 60 days, we have witnessed some very troubling news about the global economy. The meltdown on Wall Street is affecting Americans of all walks of life. Daily we hear the sobering news of more foreclosures, layoffs, plant closures, and national retailers seeking bankruptcy protection. In short, these are trying times for all. Regardless of one's political persuasion, we are all hoping that President-elect Obama and the team he assembles will be able to work closely with the Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to fashion policies that will strengthen our national economy. If there were ever a time for bi-partisan cooperation, that time is now.

Sincerely,

Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access

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John Stewart

A New President! Now What?

Recreationists Must Unite and Mobilize

By Del Albright, BlueRibbon Ambassador

Recreationists who enjoy the backcountry, waterways, off-pavement trails and SUV exploring have a huge new door of opportunity open to us – as well as a new challenge. The time has never been more critical for us to unite and mobilize to enjoy this new door and meet this new challenge.  No matter how you wanted this election to turn out, we have to step up, work together, and mobilize our forces to help this new administration understand our sports and access issues.

John Stewart

Club Dedicates Superstition Kiosk

Superstition Mountains Off Highway Vehicle Area Kiosk Dedication

El Centro CA (October 25, 2008):  At a Dedication Ceremony held in the Superstition Mountains OHVA, the San Diego 4 Wheelers turned over a new Information Kiosk to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The four wheel drive club replaced the aging BLM Kiosk with funds provided in a grant from BF Goodrich Tires.   

In May 2008, BF Goodrich Tires honored Superstition by naming it as one of the “Outstanding Trails 2008” in recognition of the area and the conservation work done by the San Diego 4 Wheelers.

Club President Richard Jackson presented the Kiosk to Dallas Meeks of the BLM on behalf of the Club and BF Goodrich Tires. Mr. Jackson said “This Kiosk represents the years of dedication by the San Diego 4 Wheelers to preserving the Outstanding Trails in the Superstition Mountains”.

...
John Stewart

Lobby for the Hobby

10 Tips to Effectively Lobby Your Lawmakers

Getting involved in the political process and staying vigilant are the best ways you can help keep the automotive hobby thriving and protect it from unfair laws and restrictions. The following are some tips that will allow you to most effectively lobby your elected officials:


1. Develop and Maintain Relationships With Your Legislators and Their Staff: Make contact and develop productive relationships with individual legislators.

2. Educate Legislators About Your Hobby and Your Issues: Educate your legislator about what your business does, who it employs and who buys your products and services.

3. Maintain a Positive Attitude: Try to develop a positive relationship with your legislator. The next time a hobby-related issue comes up that could affect you, that same legislator may be needed to support your cause.

4. Be Informed: Stay up-to-date with SAN legislative alerts, newspaper articles and hearing notices.

5. Get Involved With the Community: Support local charities and fundraisers as it will demonstrate to local residents and politicians that your car club or organization is a positive force in the community.

6. Invite Officials to Participate in Your Events: Give legislators a platform to reach an audience of constituents.

7. Team Up With Other Clubs: To add strength in numbers and ensure that your interests are represented, partner with other clubs or car club councils in your area.

8. Rally Support Behind Pro-Hobby Legislators: Encourage hobby-friendly lawmakers to join the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus.

9. Spread the Word: Tear off this page of Driving Force, and take it to your next club meeting or cruise night or post it on an online forum.

10. Register to Vote: Exercise your right to support pro-hobby candidates. Constituents are an elected official’s number one priority. Without you and your vote of support, these officials would not be in office; so make sure you are registered, and get out and vote.

 

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Attention Car Clubs, Event Organizers and Enthusiasts!
Put SAN on Your Mailing List!
   
We’d like to know what’s going on with SEMA Action Network clubs and enthusiasts across the country; what charity events you’re involved in; when and where the rod runs, car shows, trail rides, rallies and tech meetings are held; and what legislative and regulatory issues concern club members and individual enthusiasts.

One of the best ways to keep us abreast of what’s going on and what’s important to the vehicle hobbies nationwide is for us to receive your club newsletters and updates. Please consider placing SEMA on your mailing list. Send correspondence to: Jason Tolleson, SEMA, 1317 F Street, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20004-1105. Or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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