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NRC South January Report January 2011

NRC South January Report - 31 Jan 2011

The Piute Mountains Travel Management Collaborative Planning has ended its public involvement phase.  The Piute Mountains was omitted from the original Sequoia Travel Management as it was part of a Burn Area Recovery Unit.  USFS engaged stakeholders to craft an alternative for that segment of their travel management planning.  The proposed schedule calls for Sequoia NF to release a Notice of Intent to develop an Environmental Impact Statement for the travel management with a projected January 2012 completion date.  A system of routes has been identified as a starting point for analysis.  There is a possibility some routes will be omitted from the final EIS due to some issue that cannot be mitigated.  The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft which is expected to be released fall 2011.

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NRC Report December 2010

As 2010 draws to a close, there is one important point that will carry over into the new year.  Budget issues have risen to be the major policy issue to be addressed by the in-coming 111th Congress.  Budget, spending and debt will drive legislation and management decisions during 2011.  Agencies are expected to be dealing with reduced budgets and staff while the visitors to public lands continues to increase. Overall, budget issues will have a big impact on recreation opportunities.  With the federal pay and hiring freeze, based on previous actions by other administrations, there will be numerous retirements which will reduce the available manpower within the various federal offices and an increased workload.  Of concern is other legislation passed is projected to increase the regulatory requirements within the federal bureaucracy.

And, an Omnibus Public Lands Bill was left on the table reducing the pressure to define more wilderness. The pressure for more wilderness will continue; but, will shift from legislation to administrative action as noted in the recently released change to Department of Interior policy (Secretarial Order 3310) on inventorying suitable "wild lands".

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CA4WDC BOD Meeting - Nov 20-21, 2010

Lame-Duck Congressional Session - The Democrats’ ambitions for their lame duck are shrinking by the day. But the session is destined to last deep into December, anyway, now that the agenda-setting summit between Obama and congressional leaders - which was scheduled for Nov 18 - has been put off until Nov. 30.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is down playing expectations for a productive post-election session, even as the White House and rank-and-file Democrats push for action on multiple legislative fronts before losing control of the House to Republicans.

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CA4WDC BOD Meeting - Aug 21-22, 2010

CA4WDC BOD Meeting - Aug 21-22, 2010

A developing issue involves the fatal crash at the California 200 off-road race in Johnson Valley OHV Area.  While the event was a commercial/competition event, it was a permitted event.  Early word from BLM indicates there is significant pressure from Washington to closely review future permitted events.  BLM has begun a review of event permit criteria with an eye towards safety.  The environmental community has stepped up lobbying efforts to halt future permitted events.

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NRC Report - October 2010

NRC Report - October 2010

During the October Desert Advisory Council meeting, the BLM Permit system was addressed.  BLM is holding to a strict interpretation of the permit regulations which require permit applications to be submitted no later than six months prior to the scheduled event.  All permit applications are undergoing close review and BLM has established an internal team to review their process for review and issuing permits.

Due to the strict interpretation of the permit process, the compromise for Devil’s Canyon is out.  Devil’s Canyon is still open for people to submit an application for a permit; however, an insurance policy is required.

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NRC Report - September 2010

NRC Report - September 2010

Special Use Permits are at the top of the list of concerns.  The investigation of the the California 200 accident is expected to be complete late October.  Already, BLM is taking steps in response to that accident.  As directed by Washington headquarters, BLM has begun a review of their permit policies to ensure that all permits are issued in strict compliance with existing rules and Code of Federal Regulations.  This review has been directed agency-wide.  Within the California Desert District, one immediate change is being applied.  Permit applications are required six months prior to event date.

A formal letter articulating recreation concerns with the permit process has been submitted to CDD Manager on behalf of CA4WDC.  In addition, a formal request to be part of future discussions concerning the permit process was presented to CDD Manager at the Desert Advisory Council meeting in Needles on Oct. 2.

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