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4x4Voice

Covering recreation and environmental issues within California
John Stewart

From the Landuse Front Lines...


NRC South Report for May 2019

Angeles NF – The USDA Forest Service has completed the Land Management Plan Amendment, Environmental Assessment (EA), and Decision Notice for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The Monument Plan provides guidance for the Angeles National Forest to manage the area’s unique ecological, social, and cultural resources for years to come.
 
The Monument, established in 2014, is part of the Angeles National Forest and encompasses more than 346,000 acres of high-use public land. More than 17 million people live within 90 minutes of the San Gabriel Mountains, which provide area residents roughly 30 percent of their water and 70 percent of their open space.
 
Federal Legislation - SOAR Act - This legislation will update the permitting system that guides and outfitters need to operate trips on public lands by simplifying processes, increasing flexibility in allowed activities, reducing unnecessary costs of permit administration and much more.
SOAR is written to make changes to the permitting processes and provides greater access to public lands in a way that increases economic benefits and continues environmental protections. SOAR simplifies permitting to allow outfitters across the United States to work with federal agencies, and more importantly, to get the American public outside to enjoy the wonders of nature.

Panamint Valley - The Australia-based firm Battery Mineral Resources Ltd. asked the federal government for permission to drill four exploratory wells to see if the hot, salty brine beneath the Panamint Valley floor which contains economically viable concentrations of lithium. The soft, silvery-white metal is a key component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and is crucial to the production of electric and hybrid vehicles.

The drilling request is opposed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Defenders of Wildlife, who say the drilling project would be an initial step toward the creation of a full-scale lithium mining operation. They say lithium extraction would bring industrial sprawl, large and unsightly drying ponds and threaten a fragile ecosystem that supports Nelson's bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and the Panamint alligator lizard, among other species.

The only functioning lithium mine in North America is about 150 miles away in Clayton Valley, Nev. Most of the lithium used for batteries now comes from the so-called Lithium Triangle of South America, a region that includes the world's largest salt flats.

Inyo NF - I was in Bishop a couple months ago for a Forest Plan Revision meeting with Region 5 and Inyo NF.  The meeting revolved around an object to the pending release of the Inyo Forest plan revision that I filed on behalf of Cal4Wheel.  My objection was one of about a dozen that were addressed at the meeting.

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John Stewart

From the Landuse Frontlines...

Cal4Wheel NRC South April 2019 Report

Department of Interior - Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed two secretarial orders in March highlighting the administration's support of outdoor recreation on public lands. Secretarial Order (SO) 3373 directs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to adequately consider public access for outdoor recreation when determining the appropriateness of the disposal or exchange of public lands. The second order, Secretarial Order 3374, establishes a departmental task force to ensure that the department efficiently and fully implements the most comprehensive public lands management legislation in a decade for the benefit of all Americans. The SO directs the BLM work to strike the proper balance for land and resources management, increase opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreation on Federal lands, create economic prosperity while protecting and preserving America's treasures.

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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.

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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 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 author: USFWS
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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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