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John Stewart

Notice of Intent

Forest Planning Process

STEP ONE: Notice of Intent (NOI)

WHAT IT IS: The Forest Service will post a Federal Register notice describing the need for change in management plan of a national forest. The notice also identifies the major issues that the Forest Service proposes to address in the plan revision. The NOI, also referred to as 'scoping', will solicit comment from the pubic about other issues not included or whether the public agrees or disagrees with the proposed action. Contact information and deadline for comments is also included. Comment period will vary; generally at least 30 days and not more than 180 days.

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Chief

Your Club as a Business – a 7 Step Guide

Your Club as a Business – a 7 Step GuideSo, you and a few wheeling buddies decide to create a name and a club is born. Starting a club is easy. Survival of the club is hard. What starts with shared values and vision does change over time. Your desire for the camaraderie and social life of a club needs to be tempered with the reality that you are really starting a small business. This is especially true if your club is an established club that hosts an annual event. You are involved in a small business enterprise. There are steps you can take to make your business (club) as success.1. Start with a plan. A plan forces you to clarify your goals and how much money (time) you are willing to commit. Determine how you will allocate your time. Time is money and it is the most important asset you can invest. A plan helps you make a wise investment.2. Talk to other clubs. Others have taken the steps you are about to take. Visit a few clubs and see how they operate. What officers do they have? Are they incorporated? What rules do they have? Seeing how other clubs operate can help you avoid many mistakes.3. Set goals. Your goals can be simple: having wheeling buddies for a fun trip. Or, your goals can involve protecting your favorite wheeling area. For that, consider coalitions with other groups. Talk to and work with other groups interested in your favorite wheeling area.4. Connect with your members. Your members are your “customers”. Without them, you would not have your business. Whether your club has five or fifty-five members, they are your source of income. Do your activities interest your members? Keeping them attending meetings and runs is keeping the customer satisfied. 5. Advertise. Every business relies on repeat customers to provide the core business. And, every business needs to advertise and seek to draw new members – new business. Inexpensive advertising options include maintaining a web site and joining state, regional, and national organizations to have your contact information listed in multiple places.6. Change. You start with an idea. You develop the idea into reality. Circumstances change. Can you change to meet the new challenges? Are you willing to change? 7. Legal status. If you form a club and collect dues, contact your tax adviser for guidance. In general, if you wish to open a bank account in the name of an organization, the bank will require some form of documentation the account is for a legitimate organization. Also, if your organization is focused on supporting your favorite wheeling area, the land management agency will require you to sign volunteer agreements and other documents; some of which require the signature of an officer of the organization. It is good practice to establish legal basis for your club and limit your personal liability. In most instances, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization status is acceptable.Whether you are starting a club or joining an existing club, your time is the key asset to make the club a success. Set goals, be involved, and invest your time and energy wisely.
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John Stewart

Standing is ....

John StewartNatural Resource ConsultantCalifornia Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs

The topic of the day is travel management (aka route designation). Many people are voicing complaints about the pending loss of their favorite trail and are threatening to file a lawsuit.Keep in mind, to file a lawsuit, you must have “standing” and prove that you are “harmed” by the decision. So, just what is “standing” and what is “harm”?You, the recreationist, have an opportunity to participate in the discussions and make our opinions known to the planning team about routes (roads and trails) that need to be considered for developing the alternatives to the Proposed Action. Participation establishes “standing”.

The first step in the NEPA process is “Scoping”. This is the time for the public to submit their comments. These comments will be used to develop the alternatives. One of the alternatives will be the final preferred action in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. These comments form the basis of the “administrative record”.Just commenting during the “scoping” period is not enough. You will have two additional opportunities to provide comments. However, after the scoping period, new information is difficult to enter into the administrative record.For example, your favorite trail is known as “Broken Winch Trail”. You have been using it for years and the proposed action does not recognize it as a trail to be included in the designated route system. During the scoping period, the agency is asking for comments on a proposed action. Now is the time for you to tell the agency about “Broken Winch Trail” and how it is an important recreation opportunity as it leads to your summer fishing hole, your fall hunting camp, and a provides a technical trail challenge for your recreation pleasure. That is the type of information the agency is soliciting.Identify the trail and why it is important and submit those comments to the planning team. The agency planning team will review your comments along with others submitted. From these comments, they will develop a Draft EIS complete with alternatives and a preferred alternative. And, for each alternative, consequences of that action will be analyzed.You, the recreationist, have an opportunity to continue participating in the discussions and make our opinions known. During your review of the Draft EIS, you find “Broken Winch Trail” has not been identified as part of the final proposed action. Now is the time for you to refer to your original comments submitted during scoping and submit them again, stressing how very important that trail is to you. You can provide additional information to support your case.Again, the agency will review all comments received and adjust their preferred alternative. This time, the agency will send out a Final EIS for public comment. During you review of the Final EIS, you find “Broken Winch Trail” has not been identified as part of the final action. Now is the time for you to refer to your original comments submitted during scoping and your comments submitted to the Draft EIS and let the agency know you still consider “Broken Winch Trail” as an important recreation opportunity. You can provide additional information to support your case.Again, the agency will review all comments received and adjust their final preferred alternative and issue a Record of Decision. During your review of the Record of Decision, you find that “Broken Winch Trail” is still not included.Now, you have “standing” -- you have participated in the process -- and you can show “harm” -- your recreation opportunity is not being addressed. You can appeal the decision and get ready to file that lawsuit.You have “standing” because you participated in all parts of the discussion. You have identified something of importance to you and provided documentation as to why it is important.The final decision does not include what is important to you and you are now “harmed” because “Broken Winch Trail” is being closed and you will be prohibited from using it.You have participated in the discussions. You have provided documentation. The administrative decision is not in your favor. Perhaps the judge will review the facts and rule in your favor........

Now is your opportunity to be part of the decision process.

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John Stewart

Providing Comments to a Proposed Action

You, the recreationist, need to make your opinions known to the planning team about routes (roads and trails) that need to be included in record for developing the alternatives to the Proposed Action. This is the first step in a NEPA process. This is the time for the public to submit their comments. These comments will be used to develop the alternatives. One of the alternatives will be the final preferred action.

The following are the steps necessary for making your pro-access voice heard.

1. Obtain copy of the proposed action.

Determine deadline for public comment.
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John Stewart

Your Recreation, Your Land - Get Involved

Your Recreation, Your Land - Get InvolvedBy: John StewartNatural Resource ConsultantCalifornia Association of 4 Wheel Drive ClubsIt is happening in Georgia, Tennessee, Arizona, California, Alaska, Montana, and every other state where federal land managers control public lands. Their actions are governed by management plans. Nationwide the Forest Service and BLM are in the midst of management plan updates.

You can make an important and unique contribution to the future of recreation opportunities on public lands. During the formal planning processes there are two opportunities when the federal land management agencies will seek the broadest possible public participation: during the initial “scoping” stages of a project and upon the release of a draft document. This guide will help you frame your issues and concerns into comments that will be most meaningful and influential during the planning process.Scoping Period:The primary goal of scoping is to identify issues and determine the range of alternatives to be addressed. During the scoping phase, the agencies provide an overview of the proposed project, including a description of the purpose and need for the project and a list of project goals. The public is asked to submit comments, concerns, and suggestions relating to these goals. The most useful scoping comments address the following:-- Alternative approaches and ideas for accomplishing project goals-- The range of environmental and socioeconomic issues that need to be considered-- Other potential projects that might affect or be affected by the project-- Information that needs to be considered (such as related research) and why-- Information on how you use the area and how a project might affect that use-- Your concerns about conditions or activities in the area (related to the planning project) and suggestions for improvementEA and EIS:The two most common documents in the formal planning process are the environmental assessment (EA) and the environmental impact statement (EIS). Ideally, comments are most useful if they are specific and do the following:-- Identify incomplete or incorrect information-- Describe why a particular alternative or element of the plan would or would not work-- Offer a new idea, or completely new alternative, that would accomplish the stated goals-- Point out discrepancies between legal mandates and proposals-- Highlight deficiencies in the analysis of environmental consequences-- Tell them how you use the area and how particular proposals in the planning document would affect that useYou do not have to wait for a formal planning process to submit comments. Land Management agencies are always interested in your thoughts and ideas relating to the areas they manage and appreciate receiving your general comments anytime.They encourage comments that include:-- Your concerns about conditions or activities in the area and suggestions for improvement-- How well you feel the agency is accomplishing its mission in the area-- The overall quality of your visit to the area is critical to the management and planning efforts. Here are some ways you can stay involved:-- Review draft plans, final plans, press releases, and plan updates on the agency’s web site.-- Add your name to the agency’s mailing list to receive the newsletters and other planning-related notices.-- Request printed copies of planning documents.-- Visit the area and talk with land management staff.Remember, it is your recreation and your public land. Get involved and be part of the process, or........

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Chief

Developing an EIS - Step by Step

Developing an EIS - Step by Step

The National Environmental Policy Act was signed into law by President Nixon in 1969. The Act declares a national policy to "encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; [and] to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation...".

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