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John Stewart

Scrappage Update from SEMA

Editor’s Note: As Congress is considering various scrappage proposals, this “Scrappage Update” section has been included in Driving Force to brief SAN members on developments surrounding these harmful and shortsighted measures. Critical to this effort are SAN members rallying their fellow hobbyists against these programs. Here is a letter that was sent by long-time SAN member Tom Cox to enthusiasts in his area.Fellow Hobbyists,Some of you are no doubt aware that Congress is considering funding another ill-advised “Cash for Clunkers” program. In the past, such scrappage programs have been largely funded and administered at the state level. Unfortunately, Congress is poised to ram a stimulus package through within 30 days of the inauguration. Many congressional members, at the urging of car dealers and manufacturers, are petitioning the Obama transition team to support a federal scrappage program funded with billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars as part of the stimulus package.

The belief is that low-income families will trade their clunker for $1,500 or $2,000 from Uncle Sam, and then rush to buy a new car. In addition, it is believed that buying and scrapping these older cars will clean the air. Both assumptions are heavily flawed.Many of the cars traded in under this plan would have been driven sparingly, if at all, and many would likely come from junkyards and junk dealers. Additionally, these older vehicles represent a minimal part of the pollution problem due to their small numbers and minimal annual mileage. This is another feel-good proposition that will not address the true causes of air pollution, but will only serve to make bureaucrats feel useful.Low-income families will never be able to buy a new car simply because someone gave them $1,500 or $2,000. New cars cost far more than that; $1,500 or $2,000 will not cover taxes, DMV fees and the higher insurance fees required on most new vehicles. Not only will these lower-income folks not be able to access a new car, but they will find the cost of a used one in their price range is harder to find, as all the inexpensive cars will be scrapped under this plan. Accordingly, they will be limited to working in areas serviced only by public transportation, which will trap many in deteriorating metropolitan areas without access to better jobs. In addition to the motorists affected, auto body shops, general repair shops, auto parts companies and many others in our backyard will be affected negatively through the scrapping of these cars.Many of you may wonder how this will affect the old-car hobby. It will impact us immediately in some ways and eventually in others. There will be an immediate reduction in older parts available for restoration and project cars. Old cars will be looked upon as detrimental to the environment and will be labeled as such. Most government programs and initiatives such as this start out as “voluntary.” Eventually, they then become permanent, and we may all be compelled to rid ourselves of older cars or prevented from driving them. In addition, bodyshops and auto-service-related businesses will dwindle in number, driving up repair costs. Once old cars are labeled as gross polluters due to this legislation, we will be forced into emissions testing or even paying carbon taxes on our cars. There is even the possibility of federal auto registrations to keep track of these older cars. Trust me, you and your hobby will be disproportionately affected by this legislation.Instead of Cash for Clunkers, if politicians really want to help in these times of crisis while cleaning the air, they should support the following recommendations offered by our friends at SEMA:Allow an above-the-line tax deduction for interest, sales and excise taxes associated with the purchase of a new car or provide a tax credit/voucher for everyone towards the purchase of a new or used car, more efficient car, etc.Provide tax credits to help repair or maintain an older vehicle since this employs the people who make the parts, sell them or install them. This will offer the owner added performance, drivability and fuel mileage and significantly reduce pollution since maintenance, not age, is the greatest factor affecting air pollution from vehicles.Act now! Please respond immediately to the Action Alerts sent by the SEMA Action Network and available at www.semasan.com. On behalf of your fellow hobbyists, I thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.Sincerely,Tom CoxVice President Membership AACAPresident Southwest Virginia Car CouncilPast President Virginia Museum of Transportation
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John Stewart

BlueRibbon Coalition working with Ruffed Grouse Society (and others) in this win!

Minnesota Court sides with conservationists in Superior National Forest lawsuit

Decision allows US Forest Service to move forward

Coraopolis, Pennsylvania - Sportsmen and women are among the winners in a significant legal victory in a case regarding the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota. The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) joined with others including the Minnesota Forest Industries, Inc., Minnesota Timber Producers Association, All Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota, Blue Ribbon Coalition, Lake County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to defend important habitat management projects being proposed by the US Forest Service.

In 2008 the Sierra Club and other preservationists had filed suit to halt implementation of the recently revised Forest Plan - claiming that because the Plan allowed habitat management projects adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) it would affect the wilderness character of the BWCAW and, therefore, should not move ahead. 

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John Stewart

Forest Service "Trees and Trails" Concept

Recently key trail and recreation stakeholders were invited to attend a meeting in Fairfield, California with Region 5/Forest Service where they unveiled Randy Moore’s “Trees and Trails” vision for the future. Randy is the regional forester for R5.

Trees and Trails Concept: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/news/2008/trees-trails.shtml As some of you know, the FS has historically focused on the extractive industry where often "Recreation" is at the bottom of the priority and funding list.

On behalf of the BlueRibbon Coalition, I attended the mid 1990s Forest Congress and the 1999 Recreation Congress where the FS and stakeholders talked about recreation but not much was done.This Trees and Trails concept is the first FS "recreation" oriented theme/effort of any size/scope that I have seen.The group voted to move forward with having the agency look at starting a state-wide stakeholders group this year. Also a number of other concepts were voted on.There was a lot of enthusiasm in the room and it appears the FS and other trail partners want to work together for the good of trails, the forest, and recreation.I know we have been disappointed in the past with the agency's lack of attention or focus on recreation issues, but I think this appears to be something more substantive and may actually have a chance to succeed. Maybe recreation will no longer be considered as the “crazy uncle in the basement” but rather be invited to sit at the table with the other adults. Read more about the Forest Service "Trees and Trails" Concept from Don Amador's aka "The General" Recreation HQ Blog. ###
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John Stewart

Proposed Raid on OHV Trust Fund in California

Many already know of the proposed raid by the Governor’s Office and state legislature of almost 90 million dollars from the OHV Trust Fund to help solve the budget crisis in California. This is a very disturbing prospect for me on any number of levels and it shows just how bad the economic situation is in what used to be called the Golden State.

One of my first state-oriented land-use battles in the early 1990s was fighting the Wilson Administration’s raid on the OHV program. Early in that fight, I had received a heads-up from a federal land management employee that they were being told by Region 5 to expect massive cuts in the OHV grants program. Many groups and activists held letter writing and fax campaigns, started a massive state-wide phone-in to the Capitol, and had pro-access US Senators send letters of protest to the Governor’s Office and Resource Agency.While some may argue the success of those efforts, the fact remains that the OHV Division and grants program continued. Sadly, the monies collected for the acquisition of new riding areas from that time has largely sat in a stagnate account being unspent.As an OHMVR Commissioner in the mid 1990s, I remember looking at potential sites ranging from Humboldt County, down in the Central Valley, and in So Cal.

Regardless of how rural those sites were, there was ALWAYS some local NIMBY or green citizen’s group that loudly protested to elected officials and the media.When I asked one of those groups why they were protesting a new OHV site, they would say… “I support OHV but not at this site.” Then I would ask them to ID a site. Their response was always stone cold silence.

Read more about the Proposed Raid on OHV Trust Fund in CA from Don Amador's aka "The General" Recreation HQ Blog

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John Stewart

A CAUSE WE CAN ALL RALLY AROUND

We need to start early, with toddlers. Little kids naturally love to be outdoors, to bask in the sun, crawl in the grass, play in the dirt. A world of natural exploration, away from indoor toys, opens before them. Encouraged at this age, that world of natural exploration can become a lifelong quest.Winter offers special opportunities, compromised only by the need for appropriate dress. Snow becomes the wonder of a starry flake, the canvas of a snow angel, a ball to throw, the stuff of a man, and a marvelous surface on which to slide whoosh down a hill.Later on, snow play means skiing, snowboarding, tubing or snowmobiling, all in the company of family and friends. It means learning skills and how to take care of yourself. It means working with family to maintain equipment and help fix machines. Snow can be an enduring passion.If toddlers are to be encouraged to love the outdoors, then this must start with mom and dad. Parents need to be there, enjoying themselves as much as the kids. This is where a kids-outdoors effort must begin.I'm worried that it may be too late. How many moms and dads are engrossed in cyber world role playing while the little ones are parked in front of the TV? By the time kids are 10, they can get sucked into the omnipresent Internet-cell-phone communication web that consumes all their attention right down to their very soul. There's no room for outside influences, let alone outdoor activities. They can't go anywhere without being plugged in, and thanks to satellites, they don't have to.It's a daunting task. We can each go about our efforts and make some progress, but we'll be far more successful if all groups work together in a simple, straightforward way that's pervasive and consistent. All together now, moms, dads, kids -- outside.###

Adena Cook is a consultant with the BlueRibbon Coalition. She may be contacted directly here:Phone: 208-522-7339e-mail: [email protected]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. www.sharetrails.org

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