Access Issues

President plans to visit CA desert in move to designate massive National Monument

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Administration officials have accepted Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) invitation to visit the California Desert and will attend a public meeting on Tuesday, October 13, and consider designating 1 million acres in the area as National Monuments. Senator Feinstein also has pending legislation that would not only address the area being considered for National Monument designation, but would also statutorily designate five OHV areas.

It is inappropriate for the Administration to even consider a National Monument designation in the area as Feinstein’s collaboratively developed legislation is moving in the Senate (a legislative hearing is scheduled on the bill on October 8), and Representative Paul Cook (R-CA) has recently introduced companion legislation in the House.

Please send an email to the President and the Interior Secretary opposing the designation of 1 million acres of the California Desert as National Monuments.

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Legislation creates six national OHV recreation areas in the California desert

Legislation (HR 3668) has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to create five new national off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation areas in the California Desert (Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes, and Stoddard Valley). Under the bill, off-road enthusiasts would have access to over 60,000 additional acres of land. The “California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act” would also designate Johnson Valley as a National OHV Recreation Area and expand it by nearly 20,000 acres.

Please use our Action Center to contact your U.S. Representative immediately to request support for HR 3668

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17 candidate species found to no longer warrant listing

ESA-driven collaborations among states, landowners and federal agencies are protecting once-imperiled species across U.S.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) completed status reviews for 17 species that were candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and found that all are now doing well and no longer warrant listing. These species will be removed from the ESA Candidate List. These findings represent years of collaborative efforts across the United States to conserve and restore once-imperiled species and their habitats and eliminate the need for ESA protection.

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Small subset of Sierra Nevada Red Fox Warranted for ESA listing

Service finds subspecies not in danger of extinction across its entire range

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that the Sierra Nevada red fox as a whole does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, a small population of the fox located north of Yosemite National Park is warranted-but-precluded from ESA listing by higher priorities at this time.

The most up-to-date scientific information available, some of it discovered since the time the Service was petitioned to list the Sierra Nevada red fox, shows it is more widespread than originally thought, residing in suitable habitat in Oregon as well as California. Based on this information, the Service determined that the Sierra Nevada red fox as a whole is not at risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.

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Plumas announces proposed action for over-snow vehicle use designation

The Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on a proposal to designate over-snow vehicle (OSV) use on roads, trails and areas on lands within the Plumas National Forest. The EIS will also identify snow trails available for grooming on the Forest. Public input on the initial proposed action is encouraged.

Designating OSV use on the Forest will ensure over-snow vehicle activity (such as snowmobile riding) is effectively managed to:  provide access; ensure OSV use when there is adequate snow; promote the safety of all users; enhance public enjoyment, minimize impacts to resources; and minimize conflicts among users.

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Rep. Paul Cook introduces California Minerals, Off Road Recreation and Conservation Act

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.

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Cal4Wheel braces for predicted storm over Sage Grouse

The California Four Wheel Drive Association (Cal4Wheel) today responded to the just-announced Department of Interior decision that endangered species listing for the greater sage grouse is "not warranted." 

“We believe this decision of listing is 'not warranted' is appropriate," announced John Stewart, Natural Resources Consultant for Cal4Wheel.  “However, while agency leadership is proclaiming a great victory and collaborative success story, the 'devil is in the details' and we expect to become mired in avoidable litigation.” 

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Upper Richardson Lake Road now open

The upper part of the Richardson Lake Road (14N39) on the Pacific Ranger District in the Eldorado National Forest is now open for motorized vehicle use, completing the final phase of corrective work on this route.   

Richardson Lake Road is on the far northeastern end of the forest, and must be accessed through roads leading from the Lake Tahoe area. This 2.65 mile road is used to access Richardson Lake for camping and fishing, and travel to the top of Sourdough Hill to enjoy the scenic vistas, including a good view towards the Rubicon Trail. The route also provides access to the Pacific Crest Trail.  A 4WD vehicle must be used to reach this road.

The first phase of work allowed the Richardson Lake Road to be re-opened up to the Pacific Crest Trail beginning in July 2014.  Recently, improvements to the upper part of the road were completed in which a rolling dip was installed; an existing sediment basin was emptied and enlarged; and rock was placed over areas of bare ground. "These measures will help prevent erosion and protect delicate meadow ecosystems while allowing recreationists to enjoy one of the most popular motorized trails in the forest," said District Ranger Richard Thornburgh.  

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Barrett Lake trail reopened July 23

Volunteers from the Hi-Landers 4WD Club transported gravel to the Barrett 4WD Trail project site this summer for construction of rolling dips.

The Barrett 4-wheel drive (4WD) Trail, a rugged six-mile off-highway route from Wright's Lake to Barrett Lake, just west of Desolation Wilderness, was re-opened today (July 23, 2015), now that reconstruction has been completed on three segments of the trail to protect sensitive meadows. The Barrett 4WD Trail has been used by recreationists since the 1960s and offers one of the most challenging off-highway vehicle (OHV) experiences in the Sierra Nevada. The trail has a high rating for difficulty and is only recommended for very experienced OHV users prepared for remote travel over large rocks. Motorized travel on this trail is typically at a rate of approximately 1- 2 miles per hour. 

The Barrett 4WD Trail was identified as one of 18 routes in the Eldorado National Forest travel system which needed corrections to comply with the environmental protection guidelines in the Sierra Nevada Plan. These routes were closed in 2012 to complete further analysis and make corrections to ensure the hydrologic connectivity of meadows would not be significantly impacted by motorized vehicle use.

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Forest Service makes progress on Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra plan revisions

The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region continues to make progress revising the land and resource management plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests.

The Forest Service is revising the plans under the 2012 planning rule, which also tasks the agency with evaluating lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, and addressing potential Wild and Scenic River (WSR) designations during plan revisions.

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