4x4Voice

Covering recreation and environmental issues within California

Campfire Safety

Campfire Safety

It is coming down to the Dog Days of Summer and it has been a long dry summer with many outdoor opportunities restricted due to sever fire danger.

Even though many public lands are under fire restrictions, campfire safety is still of concern all year. Everyone should follow fire safety precautions when visiting public lands to help to keep our public lands free from fires.

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The Passage of Time

The Passage of Time

Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access

I prepared this newsletter between the Christmas and New Year holidays. I like this time of year because the rush of Christmas is over. There are fewer people in town thereby making it easier to get into work, and there is just a general sense of quiet in the Nation's Capital. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the President and the Congress are out of town, who knows? This window of quiet also gives me an opportunity to reflect upon the concluding year and look forward to the New Year. Even though the exact timing of the beginning and the end of a year is an arbitrary demarcation determined by Pope Gregory more than 400 years ago, it does serve as a defining moment whereby we segment our lives into a finite time capsule. With each passing year, I become more reluctant about giving out my date of birth. This reluctance has nothing to do with the fear of becoming a victim of financial fraud, but rather, the simple tick of the clock. It's the passage of time that most of us hate to accept, especially since we are so powerless to do anything about it.

Looking Back in 2007

2007 was a year of change especially in Washington. A newly elected Congress took office in January and for the first time in many years, both the House and the Senate were controlled by the Democrats and the Republicans were no longer in the legislative driver's seat. We witnessed the exodus of a series of key federal land managers as the Bush Administration entered its final two years in office. We saw the resignations of the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, the Secretary of Agriculture and the retirement of the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. A new Forest Service Chief was appointed to the post, a new Director of BLM was confirmed by the Senate, and we still await the confirmation of a new Secretary of Agriculture.

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Disbursed Camping

Disbursed Camping

Disbursed camping, dry camping, bob-tailing, or boon-docking means different things to different people. In general, it is camping in a location where electric, water, and sewer connections are not available. This broad definition includes everything from camping at a commercial campground, parking lot, or driving out into the back country and pulling off the road. The land management agencies refer to it as disbursed camping or long-term visitor use.

For most 4x4'ers, driving out into the back country and pulling off the road is the desired activity. We love driving to a secluded location and finding a nice place to spend a night or few days.

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Year of the Underdog

Washington Newsletter
February 2008

Year of the Underdog

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2008 is beginning to shape up as totally unpredictable. If things continue as they have thus far, it will be known as the year of the underdog. The Giants defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, John McCain pulls a surprising comeback after sinking in the polls in the summer of 2007, and Barack Obama proves to be a strong challenger to Hillary Clinton. What a year, and we are only 30 plus days into it.

The Federal Reserve announces a surprised reduction of 3/4 of a point in interest rates and it did so without even convening its regularly scheduled meeting in Washington but rather over a late night conference call on a secured telephone line.

President Bush delivers his last State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress, but has to share the news limelight with the unexpected endorsement of Barack Obama by Teddy Kennedy and his niece, Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy.

All of this is a bit like when the airline pilot announces to everyone that they should tighten their seat belts in anticipation of unexpected turbulence. You hope the pilot is wrong but you don't want to take a chance that he/she isn't. 2008 is going to be one of those "tighten your seatbelt" years.

2009 Budget
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The news we heard about the FY09 Federal budget doesn't give us much comfort about unbuckling that seatbelt. In fact, we are in for one rough ride.

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It's a Light Bulb

It's a Light Bulb!

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Talk about a policy of unintended consequences. In the January newsletter, you might have noticed that I made passing reference to recent Congressional action that will require the phase-in of energy efficient light bulbs and the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs (the kind that Thomas Edison invented).

The new fangled spiral fluorescent bulbs can cost two to three times as much as the old bulbs, but use 25% less energy and can last up to 10 times longer. So far, so good, except there is a little environmental problem with those new bulbs... they contain mercury. Granted, each bulb contains only 5 milligrams of mercury, but last year over 300 million bulbs were sold and soon the number will be in the billions. What happens when all of those burned out spiral bulbs make it to a landfill? The lights are on at the Environmental Protection Agency as it begins to figure out a solution to the problem.

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ARRA Newsletter - May 2008

ARRA Newsletter
May 2008

Access to Cape Hatteras
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If you think that access issues are the exclusive domain of the western part of the United States, think again. For the folks who live near and/or visit the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, beach access is becoming a life and death issue especially as it relates to their local economy.

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