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Recreation Advocate

The OutdoorWire family websites feature news and information affecting outdoor recreation opportunities and access to public lands. 

Intense Wildfire and Over Regulation Impact OHV Recreation - Letter to EPA from BRC

Closure Order - 2012 Mill Fire
Mendocino National Forest

The Recreation HQ believes it is important for recreationists to understand just how important forest health fuel projects (mechanical treatments such as logging or mastication, prescribed fire, fuel breaks) are as a management tool to help protect recreation facilities (i.e. trail catch basins, rolling dips, staging areas, etc.) from intense uncontrolled wildfires that burn mostly in the summer months. 

Many of the same regulatory agencies such as EPA and CA Air Resources Board that govern OHV engine emissions also have regulations that, for the most part,  functionally eliminate  the use of prescribed fire  to address excessive fuel loading on Forest Service, BLM, state, and private lands.

Because forest health projects are so important to both motorized and non-motorized recreation, I accepted an initiation to join FireScape Mendocino almost 3 years ago to try and find common ground with other stakeholders on fuel projects that could help reduce the threat of uncontrolled intense wildfires that often destroy OHV opportunities at areas such as Stonyford on the Mendocino National Forest (2012 Mill Fire) and Hull Creek OHV Area on the Stanislaus (2013 Rim Fire).

Mechanical Treatment
Sierra National Forest

Link to FireScape Mendocino

That interest in forest health is what prompted BRC to submit a formal comment letter to the EPA on proposed regulations that appear to only further restrict land managers from using prescribed fire as a management tool.

Link to March 16, 2015 BRC Letter to EPA (more pics etc.)

It seems that wildfire impacts to recreation and access to forest lands are often overlooked in the debate.  I believe it is time to change that dynamic. 

If you would like to see another article on fuel breaks (another management tool), you can click on the link below:

Link to QWR Fuel Break Article

Please feel free to leave a comment and share your views on this subject.

Thanks for your interest!

Original author: Don Amador
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