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Reprieve or Empty Token Gesture regarding Johnson Valley 29 Palms

The popular Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Riding Area in California may not (yet?) be lost to a Marine base expansion. But is this just a temporary reprieve or token gesture?

The military is barred from spending money on expanding the Twenty Nine Palms military base into Johnson Valley until it completes a report on how the expansion would affect off-highway riding, under a military spending authorization bill approved by U.S. House and Senate conferees on Dec. 18.

The non-binding report to Congress would cover the impact on OHV recreation in the Johnson Valley, along with alternatives for achieving the goals of the military and the OHV recreation communities. This report would allow for more time to come to a solution that meets the training needs of the military while maintaining access for motorized recreation. Or is it a placating stall tactic? There is nothing binding other than to complete the study. It is a study to determine if alternatives are available, not that alternatives must be found, followed or chosen by the military.

In July, the Department of the Navy released a final environmental impact statement for the expansion of the Marine base. The preferred alternative would allow public use of only 40,000 acres of the 190,000-acre Johnson Valley OHV area, and for only 10 months a year. It is an effort by the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twenty nine Palms to expand its land holdings to allow for more live-fire training. The proposed expansion needs congressional approval.

Several years ago, the Navy began the formal process to take over some 365,906 acres of public land near San Bernardino to use for live-fire training for the Marines. The Navy filed an application with the U.S. Interior Department seeking control of the public land, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The Navy also wants priority for some 72,186 acres of non-federal land in case the federal government acquires it.
The fight to retain public land access for recreational use is far from a battle won in this case but it is a temporary reprieve.
Learn more by following us on Twitter @ufwdaOrg and visiting our website at www.ufwda.org or “Like” us on Facebook at United Four Wheel Drive Associations.

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Post-Election, Where Do We Stand And What Should We Be Doing?

by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

Just days after the November 6th election, some recreation groups and businesses wrote to President Obama asking him to create a new, 1.4 million acre National Monument area in the State of Utah. Farther north, in Montana, television commercials started appearing, promoting anti-OHV legislation in that state. As Larry Smith reported in the December ARRA newsletter, 2013 is shaping up to be a challenging year for OHV recreation and public access.

We decided to ask some of the OHV industry’s most informed and influential leaders what this means at the local level. Here is the question and their answers

Question: At this time, why is it important for OHV enthusiasts to be politically involved in their state trail systems, and what can they do as riders, clubs and state associations to be effective?

Paul Vitrano, California -- Executive Vice President, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA); President, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA)

Continue reading
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Ottawa National Forest Eastern OHV Connector MICHIGAN

Ottawa National Forest Eastern OHV Connector

Good News! Another step toward passing the 70-mile Ottawa National Forest Eastern OHV Connector Route Project MI-TRALE has been working on for years happened this week.

Forest Supervisor, Anthony V. Scardina, issued a Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Ottawa National Forest Eastern OHV Connector Route Project.

View the latest at http://mi-trale.org/ottawa-national-forest-eastern-ohv-connector/


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POCATELLO, ID (December 14, 2012) -- On December 15, 2012 the gates will open to another season of snowmobile access to Yellowstone.  The Park Service has extended last year's One-Year-Rule for the 2012-2013 Winter Season.

What does the extension of the "One-Year Rule" for 2012-2013 Winter Season mean?  It means that 318 commercially guided Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles--and 78 commercially guided snow-coaches--will be allowed in the park.  The proposed extension will also continue to provide access for motorized travel from the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass. The extended one-year rule allows the same level of activity as the 2011- 2012 season.

This would seem to indicate that the combined effort of the recreational community during the two comment periods on the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement made a difference. The Park Service has now determined that many issues need to be further analyzed before a new long range Winter Use Plan can be put in place for the 2013-2014 season and beyond. This additional analysis will be conducted using the current Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) process, which will include the winter season 2012-2013 in Yellowstone.

For more details about the December 15th opening of the Winter Season in Yellowstone please see the Park Service Media Release.

"The fight over Yellowstone has been a long, contentious and complicated battle," said Jack Welch, Special Projects Coordinator for the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC). "Please remember the fact that Yellowstone remains open to snowmobiles represents one of the most profound victories over the extreme environmental movement in our lifetime.  Enjoy the victory and make your plans to come and enjoy Yellowstone this winter on a snowmobile!"

Note: As additional information on items covered in this summary are announced by the Park Service, they will be posted on BRC's dedicated Yellowstone website.

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POCATELLO, IDAHO (December 11, 2012) -- The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national recreation advocacy group, today criticized a recommendation that President Obama appoint Congressman Raúl Grijalva (AZ) as the new Secretary of the Department of Interior. The recommendation of Grijalva was made recently by a collection of the most radical and litigious preservationist organizations.

Brian Hawthorne, BRC's Public Lands Policy Director said; "The appointment of Grijalva to lead the Interior Department would be a step in the wrong direction, and would only further the political divide that currently exists between some land managers and western public lands states."

Grijalva is well known for supporting various initiatives that specifically targeted Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation on federally managed lands.  But motorized recreation wasn't Grijalva's only target. During his tenure as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands (2009-2011), Grijalva was well known for attacks on cattlemen, oil and natural gas development and other commercial uses of public lands.  In numerous hearings and investigations, Grijalva seemed to take his lead in both substance and tone from the most litigious "environmental" groups, including the Western Watersheds Project, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Grijalva's assertions didn't always comport with the result of his investigations, however. Don Amador, BRC Western Representative, remembers when Grijalva requested a GAO (Government Accountability Office) study on OHV use on public lands. "When requesting the study, the House Resources Committee erroneously parroted the anti-OHV litany from the most radical anti-access groups. But the GAO study found those allegations to be false and validated the OHV communities involvement of, and defense of, motorized recreation on public lands," Amador said.

National OHV Group Supports GAO Recommendations on OHV Use (LINK)
GAO Report Debunks Anti-OHV Myths (LINK)
GAO Report on Managing OHV Use on Federal Lands (LINK)

Greg Mumm, BRC's Executive Director, warned OHV enthusiasts not to fall for a "rope a dope" on a potential Grijalva nomination. "It would be a 180-degree departure from past practice for Obama to name Grijalva. Anything can happen, and we shouldn't rule out a Grijalva nomination entirely, but this effort seems all too convenient for these sorts of groups to push so hard at this early stage." Mumm noted that Secretary Salazar has not yet formally tendered his resignation.

Mumm said; "Considering the charges of rangelands mismanagement, as well as the job opportunities that exist on public lands, one would expect Obama to be in a fence-mending mode." Mumm also noted many Western Governors and U.S. Representatives would react strongly if Grijalva was on a realistic short list. "I'm sure the President welcomes this sort of distraction during the increasingly urgent efforts to forge a bipartisan solution to our imminent launch off the fiscal cliff," Mumm added.

Mumm speculated that the effort here may be more shameless fundraising and "base building" on  behalf of these radical groups. "Experience leads me to suspect the administration will use the support for Grijalva to portray another candidate as 'moderate.' And compared to Grijalva, it is hard to believe that any selection wouldn't qualify as more moderate," Mumm concluded.

Massive Coalition Calls on President Obama to Nominate Rep. Raúl Grijalva as Interior Secretary
GEORGE OCHENSKI: Obama's second chance: Raul Grijalva for Secretary of the Interior

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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib - www.sharetrails.org

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