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Covering recreation and environmental issues within California

MUIRNet-News covering environmental and state and federal administrative and legislative issues

Chief

Top Five Issues - 2008

Top Five Issues - 2008

The only constant is change. We are in the midst of rapid and massive change that will have a lasting impact on recreation. Now is the time to become involved. Membership in many organizations is falling off. Now is the time to examine your priorities and make your voice be heard.

As we move forward, the below list of five items represents my view of issues that will be major factors in the legal, legislative, and administrative processes affecting recreation opportunities.

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Chief

Imperial Sand Dunes 2007-2008 Monitoring Protocols Announced

News Release

For Release: December 18, 2007
Contact: Steve Razo (951) 697-5717
CA-CDD-08-15

Imperial Sand Dunes 2007-2008 Monitoring Protocols Announced

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the University of California, Davis, (UC Davis) plans to conduct two new study protocols at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA), while postponing a third due to lack of rainfall.

Vicki Wood, BLM El Centro field manager, said the two new studies focus on principal pollinators of the Peirson’s milk-vetch, a plant listed as threatened by the USFWS under the Endangered Species Act, as well as sampling of seedpods to determine seed quantities for reproduction. The third study, the seed bank persistence sampling study must be postponed for a future year when rainfall conditions are met.

The UC Davis study will be conducted under a cooperative ecosystems studies unit agreement with BLM under the supervision of Dr. Lynn Kimsey of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. That study will be conducted in spring 2008.

The USFWS study will also be conducted in spring 2008 and will involve collection of 600 pods from 80-100 milkvetch. The Fish and Wildlife Service plans to send the pods to Dr. Kimsey’s laboratory at UC Davis where they will be dissected, viable seeds counted, and seed dimensions measured.

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Chief

Habitat - Learn More and Become Involved

Habitat - Learn More and Become Involved
John Stewart
Natural Resources Consultant
California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs

Habitat is a combination of environmental factors that provides food, water, cover and space that a living thing needs to survive and reproduce. Habitat types include: coastal and estuarine, rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, wetlands, riparian areas, deserts, grasslands/prairie, forests, coral reefs, marine, perennial snow and ice, and urban.

Critical Habitat is that habitat necessary for survival and recovery of threatened and endangered species.

Destruction, degradation, and fragmentation of habitat is a driving force behind today's decline in species and biodiversity. Impacts to habitat can be caused directly by such activities as the clearing of forests to grow crops or build homes, or indirectly, for example, by the introduction of invasive species or increased pollution run-off from yards and fields. It is the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

Habitat defined as critical habitat for threatened species affects a wide range of recreation interests including private property in addition to public lands. Learn more about the habitat-related activities of the Fish and Wildlife Service programs by visiting the links below - and get involved.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - http://www.fws.gov/
MUIRNet - http://www.muirnet.net/NoteTaker/ESA-Critical-Habitat.ntweb/?1
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John Stewart

Recreation – A New Era

Recreation – A New Era
John Stewart
Natural Resource Consultant
California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs

In the mid-1990’s, the Clinton administration foisted the “roadless rule” on an unsuspecting public, initiating a fundamental change in the way the Forest Service would approach land management. Since its inception, the “roadless rule” has been the subject of on-going litigation challenging the legality of the action. The 10th Circuit and 9th Circuit Courts are at odds with differing opinions of the legality of the rule and its various iterations.

While the courts argue, the agency is left with trying to base decisions without knowing the ground rules. The infamous “roadless rule” is but one of several efforts undertaken by agencies to bring land management policy into sync with the 21st Century. All efforts to modernize 40-50 year old policies have been subjected to court challenge by zealots that wish to roll the clock back a few centuries.

Today, the recreation community is committed to working for solutions. Beginning with the 1937 Pittman-Robertson Fund through the 1991 National Recreation Trust Fund, the recreation community has been subjecting themselves to a “tax” that is earmarked for support of recreation activities. In California, the Off Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation Trust Fund is a “tax” levied on recreationists for the purpose of supporting that form of recreation.

While recreation interests are proactive in providing funds for game and fishery habitat management and trail maintenance, forces are at work to eliminate the very forms of outdoor recreation that are providing the funds supporting environmental improvements.

In California, as elsewhere, critical issues impacting recreation are centered around access to recreation opportunities. Federal agencies are engaged in “travel management”, which is eliminating many of the historic routes used by hunters and fishermen for several generations. Agencies are defining “critical habitat” for threatened or endangered species with accompanying access restrictions that place those areas off-limits to human activity.

Political actions are defining “wilderness areas” which includes many miles of routes in use for decades by the average citizen with a desire to leave the suburbs for a day and picnic under the pines or view the desert wildflowers in bloom.

There is an appropriate adage: The difference between an “environmentalist” and a “developer” is simple. The environmentalist has a home in the “wilderness”. A developer wants to put his home in the “wilderness”.

Today, protection of the environment is marred by court intervention. Will the real environmentalists, the ones contributing their heard-earned money, succeed in the new era?

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Chief

NEPA Explained

NEPA Explained

Keeping trails and areas depends on access. Keeping that access depends on land management policies and procedures, which depend on environmental issues and concerns. Those environmental issues and concerns are reviewed through NEPA.

So, what is “NEPA”? NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, became law on January 1, 1970 and is the basic national charter for protecting the environment. Ten years in making, NEPA is the controlling guidance for federal agencies for virtually any activity undertaken, funded, or permitted that affects the environment. All federal agencies are covered by NEPA and share some common procedures; however, each agency has different specific rules defining their NEPA process.

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Chief

NEPA – Categorical Exclusion (CatX)

NEPA – Categorical Exclusion (CatX)

The term "NEPA" stands for National Environmental Policy Act and assures that federal agencies will consider the impact of an action on the human environment before decisions are made and the action is taken. NEPA establishes a specific documentation process requiring the agency to disclose the effect of actions affecting the environment.

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