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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.

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John Stewart

IS GOVERNMENT LISTENING TO THE USERS?

WORRIED ABOUT THE RUBICON TRAIL?

I left my leadership position in Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) and the Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF) a few years back, thinking that we had laid a positive foundation to continue these incredible efforts to keep the Rubicon Trail open to all of us...all year; for all types of rigs; with challenges for us all. NOT THE CASE!!! I am sorely disappointed in the way the trail has changed in the last few years, and I am not afraid to step up and say that government is NOT listening to the users.  Not in this case.  Something is wrong and we need to bring some slap down on the deaf ones who "govern" our use of public lands in the case of the Rubicon Trail.

Original linkOriginal author: Del Albright
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John Stewart

Wildlife Associated Recreation Increases

New Report Shows Rise in Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife-Related Recreation Participation in 28 States - Billions of dollars generated for local economies and conservation

Participation in wildlife-associated recreation increased in 28 states since 2006, according to the findings of the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation State Overview Report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today.  The State Overview Report is the second in a series of reports to be released by the Service over the next few months highlighting results from the National Survey.Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar released the first report on August 15, 2012.  The National Survey, conducted since 1955, measures participation in these activities and related spending on trips and equipment across the nation and in individual states. The 2011 National Survey data show that hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $145 billion last year on related gear, trips and other purchases such as licenses, tags and land leasing or ownership.

Original linkOriginal author: USFWS
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John Stewart

Recreation – A New Era

Recreation – A New EraJohn StewartNatural Resource ConsultantCalifornia Association of 4 Wheel Drive ClubsIn 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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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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