CA4WDC NRC South November 2012 Report
Carnegie SVRA is developing a general plan and Environmental Impact Report. The GP and EIR are different documents and both will require review and comments. The timeline calls for public workshops in January/February 2013 to review a draft of the documents.
Of note, the plan is prompted by the acquisition of the Tesla properties with OHV Trust Funds several years ago. The GP/EIR will cover the new and old sections of the SVRA. State Parks has about 440 acres that are adjacent. This planning effort will not cover that land; however, that some of that land is available to address potential mitigation within the SVRA.
There is a desire to increase the 4x4 opportunity at Carnegie as well as provide additional motorcycle/ATV opportunity that is not highly technical in nature. Current use of the park is for technical motorcycle riding.
Sierra NF (DLRP) - is proceeding with the Bald Mountain Project in the Sierra National Forest. A NEPA scoping notice has been released and comments are due Nov 19, 2012. (As part of the Dinky Landscape Restoration Project collaborative team, I have submitted comments for CA4WDC.) A series of Proposed Actions within the scope of the project are described in the scoping letter. The overall purpose of the action is to improve the resilience of the forest; retain and improve key wildlife habitat, ecosystem components and processes; protect people and adjacent property from the effects of wildfire; and protect forest resources from unnatural fire.
More information about the Dinky Landscape Restoration Project can be viewed at:
Inyo National Forest has been designated as an “early adopter” forest by the Forest Service, meaning the Inyo will be in the first tier of eight national forests to revise their Forest Plan under the new National Forest Land Management Planning Rule adopted earlier this year. The Inyo’s existing plan was completed in 1988.
The Inyo held a workshop that covered their version of a “Collaboration and Communications Plan” for the upcoming Forest Plan Revision process.
This Forest Plan will be Programmatic, not site-specific. Said another way, the plan will provide guidance (guidelines) and not specific direction to accomplish a defined action. Again, it provides guidance, not specific direction.
Two key components of the planning process are the bio-regional science synthesis and the bio-regional assessment. Both activities are under the direction of Region 5.
The new plan will cover social, economic and ecological factors as required by the Forest Planning rule. All factors are to receive equal weight.
Decisions will be science-based and "data" can be local knowledge ---
The Inyo National Forest is committed to collaboration, improving transparency in the planning process, and strengthening the role of public involvement in the process through opportunities for dialogue about forest plan issues.
Desert Advisory Council fall meeting featured a tour of the BLM El Centro Field Office resource area. The tour began with a stop at Osborne Overlook for a brief description of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. That was followed by a stop in the Indian Pass area to view an area of Native American cultural significance. The area does have a rich history of culture and the tour today pointed out prehistoric, historic and current viewed at five different stops.
I encourage everyone to take the time or make the effort to learn about the Native American culture that is within their favorite recreation area. I do have some interesting pictures that will be posted within a couple of days showing some culturally important points.
And, historic culture such as transportation and mining are important precursors to current recreation.
From Native American trails several thousand years old to the Plank Road of the early 1900s, transportation has shaped the history and culture of this portion of the southern California desert.
Saturday featured the public interaction portion of the DAC meeting. One important topic on the agenda was the "business plan" for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (Glamis). For almost 10 years, ISDRA has been under a user fee structure. On tap is a potential doubling of the user fees.
After a brief review of the proposed "business plan" developed by BLM El Centro, I find several serious problems. First, the plan begins with the assumption the users need to pay a certain level for their recreation access to the dunes. This is a fatal flaw as it does not account for the cost incurred by the BLM to provide the recreation opportunity enjoyed by many.
In fact, it appears to use the fees imposed at Glamis to subsidize other non-fee areas of the southern California Desert.
Second, the plan does not address the "flee the fee" potential. In other words, the current fee is accepted by a majority of the dunes recreation user as a reasonable fee to enjoy their recreation opportunity. If that fee were to double, how many would still feel it is a reasonable expense to enjoy their recreation opportunity?
History tells us that there are a certain number of recreationists that would choose to move to an area where a fee is not assessed. That instance was demonstrated when the initial fees were established at Glamis. That leads to an under estimate of fees based on income fro fee receipts. And, that transfers visitor days from a fee area to a non-fee area.
In short, that is a disaster in the making.
Action by the DAC on this issue is advisory only as the formal proposal is required to be presented to the Recreation Resource Advisory Council in accordance with the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).
The proposal will be updated with comments received and is expected to be resubmitted to the DAC at the next meeting (Spring 2013). The proposal calls for the fees to be in effect beginning October 1, 2013.
Following are my comments about this issue presented to the DAC:
BLM has stated that public safety is their top goal and they are seeking to achieve a zero deficient budget for Dunes operations.
Within that framework, the draft business plan lacks clarity of purpose. It needs a clear statement of purpose followed by clear definition of expectations. The definition of expectations require more concise costing with respect to current costs and the projected cost increase.
A major concern not addressed and should be addressed is the increase in fees will drive some users to other locations. Basically, you will be changing visitation patterns. Moving recreation to other areas will increase impacts there and increasing operating costs for that area.
There is factual data supporting this concern as that occurred when fees were implemented about 10 years ago.
Rather than an immediate fee increase, implement phased approach with gradual increases over several years so as to not severely impact many of the visitors.
Day use - provisions for single day use should be included within the proposal.
Second vehicle - it appears that a single pass is required but it is unclear as to how a family with multiple vehicles would be accommodated. And, a second vehicle pass has been requested by users for several years and should be included in the proposal.
The business plan appears to address current operations; however, there the existing contract that is due to expire and it is not clear as to how the proposed draft will encompass the new contract.
FLREA prohibits fees collected for recreation from being used for monitoring. Costs and discussion of monitoring are included within the draft and should be deleted as those costs are not, and cannot be, associated with fees.
There is an excessive concern over "enforcement" to ensure "compliance". It seems more practical to just do it (single day pass and second vehicle pass) as it is a means of providing a reasonable expectation for the increased cost to be incurred by the recreationist.
Opportunities for cost reduction are not defined. Look at "cost recovery" from those that are involved in incidents as a means to offset the need to raise costs to the responsible recreationist.
As announced at the Board of Directors meeting, updates to these and other issues being addressed by the NRCs on behalf of CA4WDC will posted on-line at http://www.4x4Voice.com.
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