Eastern Kern County OHMVR Acquisition: The OHMVR Division proposes purchasing 59 ReNu parcels totaling 28,275 acres using Southern California Opportunity Purchase Funds approved by the California State Legislature and Governor in the 2010/2011 Fiscal Year Budget Act. The California Public Works Board is responsible for approving the acquisition. The Acquisition and Development Division of CDPR would process the land transfer documents after Public Works Board approval. This proposed acquisition will consolidate a mix of public and private lands into all public lands.
A letter in support of the acquisition has been submitted.
DRECP: In the recent DRECP Draft Alternatives, the REAT agencies propose that OHV Open Areas and Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMA) should be "rights-of-way exclusion areas for utility scale solar and wind development." Mitigation measures are also spelled out should recreational values within SRMA's be impacted by renewable energy development. These are presented in Appendix E of the Description and Comparative Evaluation of Draft DRECP Alternatives as Conservation Actions
A letter in support of proposal of no solar or wind energy projects be developed within the current Bureau of Land Management designated Off-Highway Vehicle Areas has been submitted.
Scoping Notice Greater Sage Grouse Bi-State Distinct Population Segment Forest Plan Amendment EIS: In April 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published its Listing Decision for the Greater Sage-Grouse and stated in the Federal Register “We find that listing the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) range wide is warranted, but precluded by higher priority listing actions." On a scale of 1-12 for listing priority as established by the agency…1 being the most critical and 12 being the least, the Grouse was assigned a listing priority number of 8. Currently there are hundreds of species being considered for listing under the ESA. USFWS has established a target date of 2015 to fully address the status of the Grouse. They have further stated that the threat of extinction of the Grouse is unlikely given the size of its current range, even though over 50% of its historic range has been lost over time. Finally, USFWS states, “We will develop a proposed rule to list the Greater Sage Grouse as our priorities allow.” These observations and the warranted by precluded finding are topics of dispute, but the Service’s decision and strategy as outlined above has survived legal challenge thus far. See, Memorandum Decision dated Feb. 2, 2012 in Western Watersheds Project v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Case No. 10-CV-229-BLW (D.Idaho).
A letter citing scoping issues with the Greater Sage Grouse listing has been submitted.
Meeting with OHV Lobbyist: Jim and I joined ASA, AMA, and BRC representative to discuss proposed legislation to cleanup the helmet and read seat issue in side-by-side vehicles. Legislation is proposed to be submitted to the State legislature to cleanup language inconsistencies.
Desert Advisory Council: The Barstow DC meeting featured a focus on renewable energy projects within the Mojave Desert region. Numerous large-scale solar projects are proposed that could have an adverse impact on OHV recreation opportunity.
USMC Johnson Valley Acquisition: The proposed acquisition of Johnson Vally OHV Area by the USMC now has a formal Record of Decision. Additionally, the proposal has been submitted for Congressional action under a military appropriations bill. Due to on-going budget debates, final outcome of the proposal is not clear.
Dinky Landscape Restoration Project: Work on the scoping for the proposed Bald Mountain Project continues. A document for public comment is expected by late April. The proposed project will involve forest thinning and meadow restoration. Two routes are proposed for formal closure. Both have been administratively closed to public access for about 20 years. The routes face issues with endangered species and close proximity to a stream.
Eldorado Travel Management: A Draft Supplemental EIS concerning 42 high-elevation routes in the Eldorado NF has been released for public comment. Initial information from the Forest Service indicated that a minor modification of standards and guidelines would clear a majority of the routes for re-opening. However, the public meetings indicate that extensive mitigation work will be required before routes can be opened.
Forest Plan Revisions (Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia NFs): Public meetings have begun on the forest plan revision process. A bio-regional assessment is currently being developed and expected to be complete in December 2013.