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Covering recreation and environmental issues within California
John Stewart

ALAMEDA COUNTY THROWS STATE PARKS UNDER THE BUS…….

To add insult, those of us that drove hours and hours to attend this meeting, were informed that ONLY 2 Minutes were allowed for public comment.  LAO feels this was very unprofessional, considering the seriousness of the topic at hand.

AMA District 36 was taken aback when a “motion” was presented to oppose, as it was assumed it would be a “tabled” item based on comments that appeared at the end of a 6 page letter addressed to Dan Canfield at State Parks, from Alameda County Planning Department which said – “the County believes the DEIR contains numerous inadequacies, and therefore Alameda County cannot support the project unless the stated concerns are addressed.”

Voting today, without allowing response to “stated concerns” seem very premature, and thus the county made this decision which I believe is problematic, and political. Language in some of the documents the county supplied, identified additional input from the public to be incorporated into the comments, yet, voted anyways.

Of interest, on the Agenda today, it stated this:

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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.

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John Stewart

Meetings Set for Ocotillo Wells SVRA

b2ap3_thumbnail_blmlogo.jpgBLM Announces Intent to Prepare Environmental Review for Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to conduct an environmental review for the Ocotillo Wells Recreation Area in Imperial County.

The BLM will prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze the efficiency and effectiveness of resource and recreation management at the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) and a proposed amendment to the BLM California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) Plan. The California State Parks, who manage the SVRA through a Memorandum of Understanding, will jointly prepare an environmental impact report for their General Plan update.

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John Stewart

CA4WDC NRC South November 2012 Report

Carnegie SVRA is developing a general plan and Environmental Impact Report.  The GP and EIR are different documents and both will require review and comments.  The timeline calls for public workshops in January/February 2013 to review a draft of the documents.

Of note, the plan is prompted by the acquisition of the Tesla properties with OHV Trust Funds several years ago.  The GP/EIR will cover the new and old sections of the SVRA.  State Parks has about 440 acres that are adjacent.  This planning effort will not cover that land; however, that some of that land is available to address potential mitigation within the SVRA.

There is a desire to increase the 4x4 opportunity at Carnegie as well as provide additional motorcycle/ATV opportunity that is not highly technical in nature. Current use of the park is for technical motorcycle riding.

Sierra NF (DLRP) - is proceeding with the Bald Mountain Project in the Sierra National Forest. A NEPA scoping notice has been released and comments are due Nov 19, 2012. (As part of the Dinky Landscape Restoration Project collaborative team, I have submitted comments for CA4WDC.) A series of Proposed Actions within the scope of the project are described in the scoping letter. The overall purpose of the action is to improve the resilience of the forest; retain and improve key wildlife habitat, ecosystem components and processes; protect people and adjacent property from the effects of wildfire; and protect forest resources from unnatural fire.

Read more of CA4WDC NRC South November 2012 Report

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