Access Issues

Epic decision portends new balance for reopening dunes in Glamis

Jeep on dune in GlamisSAN FRANCISCO, CA - Recreational visitors observing a fine flaky substance this morning at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) will be pleased to hear it is not snow but judicial manna. Barely a month following argument, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of the U.S. Northern District Court of California yesterday issued a long-awaited decision on the 2013 ISDRA management plan, ruling almost entirely on the side of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and sand-rider organizations, and against the latest challenge led by the Center for Biological Diversity. The ruling sets the stage for implementation of the 2013 plan, which would allow resumption of access to areas placed off-limits to riders through “interim” closures imposed over a decade ago.

The litigation over riding at the ISDRA began in 2000, and has resulted in multiple trips to Judge Illston’s courtroom where BLM, USFWS, and recreation enthusiasts have suffered multiple setbacks. The 2013 plan followed lengthy public input and was designed in response to the Court’s 2006 ruling and new critical habitat designation by the USFWS for the Peirson’s milk-vetch (PMV), the plant species of primary concern at the Dunes. Preservationist plaintiffs raised an array of challenges under the Endangered Species Act and other laws to the new plan, but yesterday’s decision rejected those claims and upheld BLM’s plan, with the limited exception of finding that a recovery plan for the PMV is overdue and must be issued by 2019 unless the USFWS makes a specific finding that a recovery plan will not promote conservation of the species.

A copy of yesterday’s decision can be viewed at this link.

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Senate committee to mark up wilderness/OHV bills

Reprinted from E&E, June 17, 2013

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee tomorrow will seek to advance a dozen bills involving public lands from a North Carolina seashore to an Alaskan rainforest.

Measures include bills to designate new wilderness in western Nevada, Colorado's San Juan Mountains and eastern Oregon's high desert, each of which is strongly backed by conservation groups.

Members will also vote on bills to convey timber in the Tongass National Forest to an Alaska Native corporation and allow more off-highway vehicle access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore -- measures that have attracted considerable controversy.

"We're pleased to see the wilderness bills go forward," said Tim Mahoney of the Pew Campaign for America's Wilderness.

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State releases report on OHV fund investigation

An investigation that began in July 2012 regarding the under-reporting of OHV and State Parks funds was concluded recently. California Deputy Attorney General Thomas M. Patton writes in his report that, "This investigation has yielded no evidence that any OHV monies were ever intentionally hidden."

CA4WDC is formulating a response to this issue. Visit this link to view the full reports and other information regarding the investigation:
http://resources.ca.gov/attorney_generals_investigation_into_discrepancies_in_financial_reporting_by_california_state_parks/

Six Rivers begins Travel Management Planning

Comments are due by June 4

The Six Rivers National Forest in California has published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) associated with implementing a Travel Management Plan (TMP) for the Smith River National Recreation Area in the Gasquet Ranger District. This notice constitutes the beginning of the scoping and comment period for the TMP.

The Forest proposes the following changes to its transportation system: 1) add 28 user-created routes as roads, totaling 16 miles; 2) add 45 user-created routes as motorized trails, totaling 44 miles; 3) implement seasonal gate closures on 2 roads and 5 motorized trails, totaling 13 miles; 4) implement mixed-use access of 1 road (17N49), totaling 4 miles; 5) close 118 roads, totaling 57 miles, and; 6) close 173 user-created routes, totaling 80 miles.

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