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4x4Voice

Covering recreation and environmental issues within California
John Stewart

Flat-tailed Horned Lizard Study Available

This has impacted our operations, for example we have stopped grading. Our staff is working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to get what is called an Incidental Take Permit (ITP), which will allow for us to continue with our operations as normal. We may or may not be issued an ITP.  If we are, we are hoping to include Special Events as part of our operations, although there may be restrictions in staging locations, size, etc.  This process can take time and in the end we cannot be sure what we will end up with. This entire process is governed by the California Endangered Species Act and does not apply to federal lands.  It may be recommendable to contact other locations, such as BLM, to ensure that you can move forward with your event planning and ensure that you can secure a location.
 
I do want you to know that we are very sensitive to our stake holders and are working hard behind the scenes to reach a conclusion that maintains our off-road recreational opportunities while complying with the laws set forth in the California Environmental Quality Act.”

Now, for the rest of the story...

The Center for Biological Diversity did submit a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission requesting listing of the Flat-tailed Horned Lizard as a California State Endangered Species. This action was taken after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declined to list the FTHL as a federal threatened or endangered species numerous times over the past decade.

This listing is a one year listing giving time to complete a final study to determine if permanent listing is warranted. In discussions with OHMVR officials, they are meeting with California Department of Fish and Wildlife to obtain the Incidental Take Permit. OHMVR Deputy Director Chris Conlin felt confident that OWSVRA staff had sufficient study data showing a stable population of the FTHL within the SVRA. A final decision on the on-going study and ITP is not expected for several months.

To put the issue in perspective, all special use permits within the SVRA are on hold for a one year period. That time clock ends in April 2016, placing Cal4Wheel/Paralized Veterans of San Diego Operation Desert Fun and Tierra del Sol Desert Safari in jeopardy of not being held due to lack of a special use permit.

2003 Flat-tailed Horned Lizard Rangewide Management Strategy has been cited by U.S. Fish and Wildlife as providing sufficient management actions that preclude listing the FTLH as a federal threatened or endangered species.

  2203 Hits
John Stewart

Nightmare at Nightmare Gulch

Trespass damage at Red Rock Canyon SP

This was a large group of people in 4X4’s who collectively decided to violate state law. It is estimated this happened within the last two weeks, and there were at least eight vehicles in the group. See attached pictures showing the damage.

This incident at Red Rock compromised a closed sensitive area and certainly does not help our efforts to maintain OHV access to the area, the north end of Nightmare where it transitions out to a gate and eventually leads out into the northwestern portion of Last Chance Canyon and Nightmare Gulch.

Red Rock Canyon State Park issued an Emergency Closure of Nightmare Gulch on October 9, 2013. The Emergency Closure was issued as a result of summer storm damage which rendered the canyon impassable to vehicles. While the closure is temporary, before any trail repair can be performed an environmental assessment is required. This whole process could take many months. - See more at: Nightmare Gulch Closed

This trespass has the unintended consequence of jeopardizing the pending acquisition of Onyx Ranch property in the adjacent Jawbone/Dove Springs area.

Your help is needed to shut down the irresponsible few who are jeopardizing our recreation and resources with their illegal actions is needed.

Stay on designated trails. Stay out of closed sensitive areas. You are responsible for preserving off-road recreation. Responsible recreation preserves access.

 

  3620 Hits
John Stewart

Nightmare Gulch Closed

Nightmare Gulch - Red Rock Canyon SP

After meeting with Ranger Williams, Jerry and Mary drove to the east entrance of the canyon to view the damage. They have been running the canyon since 1970 and have seen a lot of changes over the years. Some of the obstacles are now easier and some are harder to negotiate than in years past. Overall, this does not appear to be the worst damage over time. There were tracks in the canyon showing that some vehicles successfully went through prior to the closure.

Two areas where identified where attention was needed (See photos). In one area, you can see where previous visitors have driven through the plants to avoid a small rock pile. The rock pile can be seen on the left side of the photo. The problem can be easily mitigated by moving aside one of the boulders.

The other photo shows a high ledge about half way up the canyon. For reference, the hiking stick is 44 inches tall. You can see on the right side of the photo where previous visitors had built a ramp. However, it is small and the approach is a little tippy. It would not be difficult to expand the size of the ramp.

From the photos, there is a belief the Emergency Closure was unnecessary. However, the issuance of the Emergency Closure starts a process that may be irreversible. Ranger Williams has promised to keep stakeholders informed as the process unfolds.

  10560 Hits
John Stewart

Green Groups Call for Anti-OHV Secretary of the Interior

TPAC paid

Dear Trail Voter,

 

As TPAC pointed out throughout the 2012 election cycle, OHV recreation on public lands is governed by politicians and/or their appointees at the regulatory agencies and departments such as the Department of Interior and EPA.

 

In a letter sent to President Obama today, several hard-core anti-OHV green groups joined over 200 other like-minded organizations and petitioned the White House to appoint Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) as the new Secretary of the Interior. Those anti-OHV groups include the Center for Biological Diversity, PEER, Rainforest Action Network, Arizona Wilderness Coalition, and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance just to name a few.

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  3596 Hits
Chief

Launching the BLOG

Welcome to the launch of the 4x4Voice BLOG.

Watch for weekly commentary about recreation and environmental issues affecting your recreation opportunity.

Expected commentary will address the increasing regulation burden on OHV recreation from local public land administrators and the federal EPA along with increased congressional action to create additional wilderness.

  2689 Hits
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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  6143 Hits

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