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Public Comment Period on Proposed Park and Refuge Firearm Regulations

“The safety and protection of park and refuge visitors remains a top priority for the Department of the Interior,” said Secretary Kempthorne. “The proposed regulations will incorporate current state laws authorizing the possession of concealed firearms, while continuing to maintain important provisions to ensure visitor safety and resource protection.”

On February 22, 2008, Secretary Kempthorne responded to letters from 51 Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, urging him to update existing regulations which prohibit the carrying of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. In his response, the Secretary directed Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Lyle Laverty “to develop and propose for public comment by April 30 Federal regulations that will update firearms policies on these lands to reflect existing Federal laws (such as those prohibiting weapons in Federal buildings) and the laws by which the host states govern transporting and carrying of firearms on their analogous public lands.”

The regulations, as currently in effect, were adopted in 1981 for national wildlife refuges and 1983 for national parks. Since that time many states have enacted new firearms policies. Currently, 48 states have passed legislation allowing for the lawful possession of concealed weapons.

“The original regulations, last substantially updated in the early 1980’s, were enacted over 25 years ago and much has changed in how states administer their firearm laws in that time,” said Assistant Secretary Lyle Laverty. “We strongly endorse the principle that states have the prerogative to develop appropriate policies and standards in this area, and believe that our management of parks and refuges should defer to those state laws.”

Once the public comment period has closed, all comments received will be evaluated and incorporated into the decision making process on a final rule. The number and substance of the comments received will determine the timeline for the final decision.

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John Stewart

ELDORADO FOREST RELEASES LONG-AWAITED TRAVEL PLAN

Supervisor Villalvazo stressed at the meeting that this base route network is a beginning and a foundation for future travel planning on the Forest. He also made a commitment to a volunteer trail program and to work with the recreation community to provide a quality recreational experience on the Forest. Villalvazo specifically noted that his office would continue to work with El Dorado County in developing a master plan forthe world-famous Rubicon 4WD Trail.Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, observed, "There is certainly frustration by the OHV community regarding the significant reduction from routes historically used and maintained by the Forest. However, we recognize the thankless position of current personnel who inherited a regulatory 'perfect storm' fraught with misinterpretation of rules, regulations and the court order.""This product is far from perfect, but many users will appreciate the agency's effort to provide for meaningful trail mileage, to reduce the wet weather closure period, and to commit to working with the OHV community and other publics on the implementation and improvement of the plan," Amador concluded.Due to the various appeal and administrative time-lines associated with this project, implementation of the decision will likely not occur until January 2009.The recreation groups at the meeting included Friends of the Rubicon, California Enduro Riders Association, American Motorcyclist Association District 36, El Dorado Equestrian Trails Foundation, California Off Road Vehicle Association, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, and the BlueRibbon Coalition, all of whom have been active in the administrative process and prior litigation addressing Eldorado travel management.# # #The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, 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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staff_user

Off Roading, What’s That?

Off Roading, What’s That?by: Scott D. Heiser Read the title of this article. Now, read it again. This is what our children are going to be saying to us if we keep doing things at the pace we are going. I live in a great area, with plenty of trails in just my backyard to go wheeling on. It saddens me to see what has been done to these trails, and what I see other people doing while “four wheeling”. I have the pleasure of having some fun trails, lined with rocks and trees, and GREAT scenery all within about 10 minutes of me.

The problem is, all the “locals” decide that they should tear the entire area up, crawling up trees to take pictures of their rigs flexing, and running over the dead trees, that are a good fifty feet off the trail. Most, if not ALL of these people also feel that it is necessary to drink WHILE wheeling, and then proceed to throw the empty cans out of their rigs, into the forest. While I know that this is not the case for everyone, I have seen it countless times, in countless locations.

With actions like this, it won’t be long before this hobby of ours will become extinct. It’s pretty sad, that this day in age, it seems that people can’t go out into the wooded trails, or the desert and have a good time without a beer in hand. If we want to continue to see the hobby of four wheeling grow, and want it to be around for our kids to enjoy, we really need to crack down on those that trash our trails, and get drunk and tear things up while “four wheeling”.

I know many of you have seen this countless times. I can’t be the only one. There isn’t much we can do to STOP these activities, but we can sure voice our opinions to A LOT of different organizations, and if you see someone drinking excessively and wheeling, say something to them.

Sure, you may not be the “popular” guy, but I for one would rather be unpopular now, and save the trails for my future children, instead of seeing all the trails closed off to the public, so my kids can’t enjoy what I love to do. My hope is that one day I will be able to help a son of mine build a rig of his own to wheel out here in our national forest, but the way things are going, its not looking like that is going to happen. I see more and more trails get shut down to public use every year. It is usually for a variety of reasons, not all of them related to belligerent four wheelers, but we can sure help the cause by straightening up our act.

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John Stewart

NEPA - The Basics

NEPA - The Basics

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assures that federal agencies will consider the impact of an action on the human environment before decisions are made and the action is taken. It requires that NEPA documents concentrate on issues that are significant to the action in question. The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make better decisions based on an understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the human environment.

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John Stewart

Truckhaven to remain open

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Truckhaven off-road area used by off-roaders since 1950’s will again be open for world class events

BAKERSFIELD, CA (September 07, 2007) In January of 2007 the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Desert Protective Council (DPC) filed a lawsuit claiming that the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) purchased the Truckhaven property without completing the environmental reviews required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). As a result, the special permits required to use the property for events were suspended. An agreement has been reached by the parties involved that will allow State Parks to issue event permits in this area as long as the appropriate environmental reviews are completed.

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