Cal4Wheel has recently submitted comments on some administrative actions that will affect OHV recreation opportunity.
The comments are directed to the Wild and Scenic Rivers and Wilderness Evaluation Process for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests and supplementary comments to the Draft West Mojave Route Network Project Land Use Plan Amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan and Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Cal4Wheel has previously submitted comments directed to the Intent to Prepare Environmental Assessment of Motorized Vehicle Management in West Mojave Planning Area.
Cal4Wheel represents clubs and individuals within the state of California that are part of the community of four-wheel drive enthusiasts. The main focus of Cal4Wheel is to protect, promote, and provide for motorized recreation opportunities on public and private lands. Many of our members participate in multiple forms of recreation; including but not limited to hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, bicycle riding, and gem and mineral collection.
Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) introduced HR 3668, the California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act. This bill presents a balanced approach to protecting, managing, and using our desert and forest areas in San Bernardino and Inyo Counties. This bill would deal with the management of existing federal land and would not result in an increase in federal landownership.
This bill establishes a Mojave Trails Special Management Area (SMA) in an area south of the existing Mojave Preserve and northeast of the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. This designation protects existing mining operations and allows for future mining exploration as long as mining projects never exceed ten percent of the total acreage. It would also prevent the installation of any industrial-scale renewable energy projects. Additionally, this bill would protect from development any lands within the management area donated to the federal government for conservation purposes. Over 1,200 miles of roads and off-road vehicle trails are written into law as well.
This bill establishes five new National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas in Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes, and Stoddard Valley, together creating the first system of National Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Areas in the nation. Additionally, it redesignates Johnson Valley as a National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area and expands it by nearly 20,000 acres. This bill affords additional protections to OHV users and ensures that these areas cannot be closed administratively. In total, this legislation preserves a total of 300,000 acres for OHV recreational use.
Approximately, 50 people gathered last Saturday at the entrance to the Barrett Lake 4-wheel Drive Trail in the Eldorado National forest to celebrate the re-opening of the trail and to recognize exceptional public service by the Hi-Landers 4WD Club, a Sacramento-based organization. "It's hard to imagine how we would have completed all the work needed to re-open the route as soon as we did without the hard work and dedication of the Hi-Landers," noted Richard Thornburgh, Pacific District Ranger. "The partnership between the Forest Service and the Hi-Landers is a model for responsible stewardship of our public lands."
Project Manager Diana Erickson added, "I have records of over 1,700 volunteer hours by the Hi-Landers in the last two years on the Barrett Trail. The group has also contributed countless hours of work on other trails and the South Fork Campground as well."
Speaking on behalf of the Hi-Landers, Mike Gephart said, "We love this trail, and will keep taking care of it. We even got to use our jeeps to help with this project. Most of all, we want to keep public lands open to the public."