OCEANO DUNES IS CLOSED! The closure of Oceano Dunes SVRA (ODSVRA) is about as sad as it gets, and off-roaders everywhere should be extremely concerned.
Oceano Dunes SVRA has three important meetings coming up in the next few weeks and here is your chance to get involved and help save the dunes from permanent closure.
The dunes are scheduled to be reopen on October 1, but many of the anti-access groups are mobilizing to do anything it takes to keep the dunes closed forever.
Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). This SAN-supported law will dedicate $9.5 billion over the next five years to address the maintenance backlog on federal lands by creating a national parks and public land legacy restoration fund, enabling the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and several other federal agencies to rebuild and improve trails, roads, docks, campgrounds and more. The bill will also appropriate $900 million annually to the Land and Water Conservation Fund for projects that help to protect natural areas, water resources, cultural heritage sites and to provide recreation opportunities. The GAOA will benefit SAN’s off-roading community in addition to those who use RVs and boats to enjoy the nation’s parks and recreation areas.
Cal4Wheel's Northern Natural Resource Consultant Jeff Blewett was recently informed that he has been appointed to the Northern California District Resource Advisory Council (RAC) for three years. This council is composed of citizens from diverse backgrounds, advising the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in matters related to serving the interests of all public land users.
In late 2017, the California Coastal Commission approved a large expansion of dust control measures at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area without complying with the California Environmental Policy Act (CEQA). Friends of Oceano Dunes sued to block the approval and won that battle in Feb. 2020.
We have a very critical California Coastal Commission (CCC) meeting coming up on July 8,9 and 10.
There is no doubt that many of these public agencies and environmental groups have one goal and that is to close Oceano Dunes SVRA down to OHV recreational activities. They do not care what issues they use: dust emissions, safety, Endangered Species and now COVID19. They will do anything to close us out of the dunes we have recreated in for decades.
I personally did not get out for Memorial Day Weekend but many of you did. Johnson Valley, Moon Rocks, Sand Mountain, Rubicon, Fordyce, Hollister Hills SVRA and many other trails and campgrounds all had big crowds over the weekend. Unfortunately, I saw way too many posts on social media about piles of garbage left behind on our trails and in our campgrounds.
Slowly we are starting to see states, counties and cities begin to reopen after governors start to ease up on their local “shelter in place” orders. It’s going to be a slow process getting everything reopened and everyone back to work, but unfortunately for us who live in California it will seem like we are in slow motion. Governor Newsom’s four-phase plan will keep many parts of our economy locked down for a few more months.
Here is a quick update on both the bills regarding Carnegie SVRA.
AB 2551- Alameda/Tesla Carnegie SVRA Expansion – As of April 30, 2020 the bill had been cancelled at the request of the author.
SB 1147- Carnegie SVRA – The bill has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee on March 5 and no action scheduled.
The good news is that some of this week’s updates are places opening back up and not being closed due to the coronavirus. Although USFS Region 5 has announced that most developed recreation sites will remain closed through May 15, the individual forests are slowly opening motorized roads and trails as seasonal road and trail closures are lifted.
The purpose of the public meeting is to receive comment on the Oceano Dunes HCP Draft EIR. This is an opportunity for the pubic to provide verbal comment on the environmental analysis contained in the Draft EIR. Anyone wishing to provide verbal comment will be given an opportunity to speak. Meeting participation is the only way to submit verbal comment. It is not necessary to attend the meeting to submit written comment. The public may also submit written comment on the Draft EIR through emailing comments to the following address: OceanoDunesHCP@parks.ca.gov.
The Bureau of Land Management El Centro Field Office invites the public to provide written comments on additional off-highway vehicle (OHV) routes in the Vinagre Wash Special Management Area, near Palo Verde, Imperial County. The public comment period will end on May 21.
This Special Management Area, designated under the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9) in March 2019, allows for the consideration of additional routes that would provide significant or unique recreational opportunities and are consistent with the purposes of the Management Area.
As we go into the sixth week of this “shelter in place order” there looks to be light at the end of the tunnel. This week, 16 states are taking the first steps to reopening and putting their people back to work.
Well, here we are five weeks into the “shelter in place order” and most Californians are doing their best to follow the rules and help flatten the curve. The first few weeks were not that bad, we got a few projects done, binge watched our favorite shows, worked on our off-road vehicles, or just relaxed a little. But I see cracks beginning to develop in even the best of people; this home isolation is beginning to take its toll and cabin fever will be the new pandemic to sweep through our community. The off-road community is used to being outside, we enjoy all types of outdoor recreation, but not being able to spend time out on the trail with our off-road family has been difficult.
Here we go again with more legislation to stop the Alameda/Tesla Expansion at the Carnegie SVRA. Similar legislation was shot down by both Gov. Brown and Gov. Newsom in the past few years. But they are back again, this time even more aggressively trying to keep the expansion and the SVRA tied up in the legislature and the courts.
I hope everyone is staying sane during this shelter in place order. I know its hard for me to just stay home, but I’m trying to do my part and do what ever it takes to get back to a place when business can start to open back up and when we can return to recreating on our favorite trails.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service announce plans to withdraw a propose rule to extend Endangered Species Act protections to a distinct population of greater sage grouse found only along the California-Nevada border.
After a yearlong review of the bi-state Sage Grouse population, the FWS has determined that the threats are no longer as significant as was believed when FWS first proposed listing the bird as a threatened species in 2013.
On Sunday President Donald Trump extended the voluntary national shut down for another month, until April 30. The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires today and the President decided to extend the guidelines when the current modeling showed that they should expect the coronavirus pandemic to peak within the next few weeks.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the lockdown which includes shelter in place and distancing measures will continue on through at least the end of April but also possibly through mid-June.
The order takes effect immediately and remains in place "until further notice." Californians are not allowed to leave their homes except for essential purposes. The mandatory order allows Californians to continue to visit gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, takeout and delivery restaurants, banks and laundromats.
On March 2, 2020, the Friends of Jawbone, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, submitted grant proposals for the 2019/2020 Grants and Cooperative Agreements grants cycle through the California State Parks, Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division.
This meeting was like most meetings, long and dry, with comments from CORVA, Friends of Oceano, AMA District 36, Cal4 Wheel and more. Topic for the meeting was about the Transformation of the OHV Division into the Parks and Rec. Further topics brought up were Carnegie and Oceano.
The Marine Corps will temporarily close the Johnson Valley Shared Use Area to the public beginning Thursday 30 April through Monday 11 May 2020 in order to conduct military training. The closure period will include the necessary time required to conduct pre- and post- inspections of the land with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Marine Corps will provide notification when the area is reopened for public access.
The California Coastal Commission has issued an emergency permit requiring California State Parks to immediately close 48 acres of camping area ahead of the Christmas and New Year's holidays, resulting in a 50% loss of camping spaces on the dunes.
In response, the Friends of Oceano Dunes have written a letter addressed to State Parks asking them to delay the closure.
On November 21, 2019, the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Joaquin, Stockton Branch, rendered a jury verdict in favor of managed OHV recreation at the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA).
I attended SLO Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Oceano Dunes SVRA hearing in Arroyo Grande yesterday and came away very disappointed in the way California State Parks just rolled over and gave the local APCD everything they wanted.
The Marine Corps will temporarily close the Johnson Valley Shared Use Area to the public beginning Thursday, April 30 through Monday, May 11, 2020 in order to conduct military training. The closure period will include the necessary time required to conduct pre- and post-inspections of the land with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Marine Corps will provide notification when the area is reopened for public access.
GOV. NEWSOM VETOES CARNEGIE BILL – Big victory last night for everyone associated with OHV recreation. Congrats to all of the activist men and women who attended hearings, sent letters, made phone calls, or provided insight while all the time remembering that we are stewards of this generation who protect responsible OHV recreation for future generations of California families.
If approved, the $1-billion solar energy project would generate 870 jobs and $72 million annually during peak construction, and deliver power to 117,000 homes in Southern California upon completion. The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public input on actions that would allow the proposed development of the Desert Quartzsite Solar Project, a 450-megawatt solar development in eastern Riverside County.
The publication of the draft Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register through the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, Aug. 10 will signal the start of the 90-day public comment period, which will end on Nov. 8. In addition to the draft EIS, other documents made available for comment include the Environmental Impact Report and draft Land Use Plan Amendment.
Comments submitted on Cal4Wheel regarding the Sequoia-Sierra National Forest Plan Revision Update.
September 25, 2019
Plan Revision Team Lead
323 Club Drive
Vallejo CA 94592
Subject: Sequoia and Sierra Forest Plan Revision Update
Dear Planning Team:
These comments are submitted on behalf of the California Four Wheel Drive Association (Cal4Wheel) and its membership. Cal4Wheel represents clubs and individuals within the state of California that are part of the community of four-wheel drive enthusiasts. These comments are directed to the Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Revision of the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests Land Management Plans. This document shall not supplant the rights of other Cal4Wheel agents and organizational or individual members from submitting their own comments and the agency should consider and appropriately respond to all comments received to this proposed planning project.
Many people are voicing complaints about the pending loss of their favorite trail and are threatening to file a lawsuit. Sounds simple. But, is it that simple?
Keep in mind, to file a lawsuit, you must have “standing” and prove that you are “harmed” by the decision. So, just what is “standing” and what is “harm”?
(As Amended September 6, 2019)
Senate Bill 767 died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week.
But now, SB 767 has been resurrected into AB1086, this bill is a "gut and amend" bill that is very similar to SB767. Cal4 was opposed SB767 and opposes the resurrected AB1086. But in addition to the policy objections of the bill, we object to the underhanded process that is being attempted to ram AB1086 through the legislature with only days to go in this session of the State legislature.
If you want to watch yesterday's AB1086 hearing in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee follow this link to the hearing- https://www.senate.ca.gov/media-archive and select the September 11 hearing of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and click “Watch.”
On April 6, 2019, the US Marine Corps and BLM hosted a public meeting concerning the Share Use Area of Johnson Valley OHV area. Two important news points were released at the meeting.
For months, a coalition of off-highway vehicle recreation associations (Coalition) representing off-road recreation enthusiasts throughout the state of California, have worked on legislation to provide reauthorization of the highly successful Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) program that is administered by the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The State Assembly recently passed amended legislation that provides permanent status for the program. The State Senate concurred and the legislation was submitted to the Governor for signature. On October 3, 2017, the Governor signed legislation making the OHMVR program permanent.
I recently received an email from a county supervisor outlining a situation where the county believed that the Forest Service was in violation of a county law when they closed close to 400 miles of routes in the forest that spanned two counties.
After reading the details submitted, I noted several false assumptions cited in the discussion.
First, let me address what NEPA is and is not. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to disclose and analyze the effects of their proposed action on the natural environment. NEPA is the law (passed by Congress) that requires this action. NEPA is an outline of a process with specific actions the agency is required to do. The resulting document from a NEPA process is not a "law". The result of a NEPA analysis is a Record of Decision stating that appropriate level of environmental review has been conducted and the proposed action can be implemented.
SAN 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.
All of us love an open gate. Sometimes we see them on our morning commute, or way out in the desert as we head out with our toys. What lies beyond it? Is the public allowed? We make a note to check it out someday.
That day finally comes and you arrive at the gate. Only this time, it’s closed and a prominent sign confirms that it was closed with finality and purpose. Another opportunity lost. You wonder to yourself if there was something that you could have done.