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Natural resources report for July 2022

Natural resources report for July 2022

SEQUOIA AND SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST LAND MANAGEMENT PLAN REVISIONS

The Sequoia and Sierra National Forests are in the process of revising their forest land management plans. The revised drafts were released in 2019, however, revisions have been revisited since to account for changes across the forest terrain that resulted from multiple catastrophic fires in 2020 and 2021. The planning team is currently finalizing the revised forest plans. Updates include incorporation of the wilderness recommendation process, efforts towards sustainable recreation, and management of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. The plans are currently within the pre-decisional administrative review process (the objection process) for the final environmental impact statement (FEIS), revised forest plans, draft records of decision, and the species of conservation concern lists.

Two virtual meetings will be held to provide information on the status of plan revision, including the objection process. There will be time for attendees to ask questions; staff will be available to address the various resource areas covered under the plans. Both meetings are open to the public. The Sequoia NF virtual meeting will be held on July 12 from 6:00 - 8:00pm. The Sierra National Forest will be held on July 13 from 6:00 - 8:00pm. Visit this link for more information and the meeting links.

The objection process provides an opportunity for those who have participated in a prior formal public comment period for these plan revision efforts to have their unresolved concerns reviewed prior to the Forest Supervisors issuing final decisions on the revised forest plans and the Regional Forester issuing decisions on the species of conservation concern lists for each forest. The 60-day objection filing period begins with the publication of legal notices in the Porterville Recorder and Fresno Bee on June 14, 2022. While members of the public may not have participated in the prior formal public comment period and thus may not be eligible to object, the meetings noted are valuable to attend to gain insight on upcoming changes in forest land management in Sequoia and Sierra NF. Click here for more information on the Sequoia and Sierra Forest Plan Revision.

OCEANO DUNES SVRA

On June 17, the San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Hearing Board held a meeting to review progress on activities required under the Stipulated Order of Abatement (SOA) that aims to reduce airborne pollution that is purportedly caused by OHV recreation at ODSVRA. Presentations were shared by California State Parks, the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG), SLO County APCD, and the California Air Resources Board. Public comment was accepted as a decision was weighed to continue or change operating requirements under the SOA.

I attended to provide comment on behalf of Cal4 to urge the board to abandon the SOA, citing evidence from the Scripps Institute Report that proved OHV recreation accounts for only 14% of PM10 (airborne particulate matter) exceedances in the area. I additionally shared grievance over Hearing Board actions that serve to minimize public participation in board meetings and decisions, and grievances over the board’s continued use of selective, biased data to justify the SOA. I was encouraged to see many other advocates from the OHV community on the call, each voicing detailed comments to urge discontinuation of the SOA.

Unfortunately, the state decided to not request any alternation to the SOA at this time. Multiple court cases that are currently in progress continue to be vital to protect the future of ODSVRA.

SIERRA NF OHV PROGRAM FIRST AID / CPR & CHAINSAW CERTIFICATION / RECERTIFICATION

The Sierra National Forest OHV trail opening and maintenance program will be hosting an American Red Cross First Aid/CPR class along with Chainsaw Recertification and Certification (for new users).

  • American Red Cross First Aid/CPR: Friday, July 8, at Prather, High Sierra Ranger District Office, 8:00am to 4:30pm
  • Chainsaw Recertification/Certification: Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10, at Kokanee Work Center, 8:00am to 4:30pm each day.

This will be the last Chainsaw Class offered through the Sierra NF OHV program until at least the fall. To RSVP for one or both classes, email Michael Nolan (michael.nolen@usda.gov) or Kevin Woods (Kevin.Woods@usda.gov).

BLM SEEKS APPLICANTS FOR DESERT ADVISORY COUNCIL SUBGROUPS: DUMONT DUNES & IMPERIAL SAND DUNES

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) California Desert District is seeking additional applicants to serve on subgroups of the Desert Advisory Council, a citizen-based advisory committee that develops recommendations for BLM on public land management issues. Responsibilities include reviewing information, seeking input from the public and user groups on various programs, projects, and agency decisions, and providing recommendations to the Desert Advisory Council on the management of these areas. The two subgroups focus on recreation and management of the Dumont Dunes and Imperial Sand Dunes recreation areas; both need additional members. Click this link for more information and application details.

Natural resources report for May 2022

Natural resources report for May 2022

SOUTH COW MOUNTAIN OHVMA

The Bureau of Land Management’s Ukiah Field Office invited public comment on future planning and improvements for the South Cow Mountain OHVMA. In collaboration with Santa Rosa 4x4, a local Cal4 club who regularly utilizes this OHVMA, I submitted a comment to advocate for improvements to trails, facilities, and general park amenities. Specific recommendations included request for jeep trail development, looping of trails, and development of the obstacle course to include 4x4 features. Other suggestions included increased security of trash bins to reduce litter across the park, addition of a picnic area at the 4x4 obstacle course (with shade), and increased ranger or sheriff patrols within the park. Many thanks to Chris Silveira and Santa Rosa 4x4 for providing detailed insight on South Cow Mountain’s current status and needs.

Oceano Dunes off-road vehicle enthusiasts win two more lawsuits

Photo courtesy CalCoastNews.com

Friends of the Oceano Dunes has won two more legal battles against government agencies involved in the contentious fight over the future of the off-road vehicle park.

The first ruling invalidates the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District’s (APCD) agreement to implement its dust rule. Formally called Rule 1001, the dust rule requires state parks to reduce the particulate matter blowing from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area or face fines of $1,000 per day.

The court found the APCD’s agreement violates public policy because the agency adopted the agreement out of view of the public and without public input. The court also ruled that APCD staff didn’t have the authority to change Rule 1001 requirements, without direction from the agency’s full board of directors.

The ruling appears to allow State Parks the ability to seek reimbursement from the APCD for monies expended under the void agreement.

Friends of the Oceano Dunes is a not-for-profit corporation expressly created to preserve camping and off-highway vehicle recreation at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Friends represents approximately 28,000 members and users of the Oceano Dunes.

During the past five years, Friends has successfully sued the California Coastal Commission, the California Air Resources Board and the APCD approximately 10 times over the agencies’ regulatory actions related to the Oceano Dunes State Recreational Area.

In 2018, State Parks entered into a stipulated order of abatement with the APCD. The order requires the state to reduce wind-blown dust, specifically dust particles that are 10 microns or less in diameter, on the Nipomo Mesa by 50 percent. Despite agreeing to the various terms in the order, State Parks still denied that off-roading causes the dust on the mesa.

The California Coastal Commission voted in March to ban off-highway vehicle use at the Oceano Dunes in three years, prompting Friends of the Oceano Dunes to file four additional lawsuits, one of which accuses the California Coastal Commission of violating environmental laws while claiming to be a lead agency when it is not.

Following the lawsuits, State Parks appeared to ignore a mandate from the Coastal Commission to permanently fence off an area for an endangered bird that nests in the sand. State Parks took down the fencing in early October, but quickly put the fencing back up following negative publicity.

State Parks has argued that the Coastal Commission failed to produce scientific evidence that off-road vehicles impact birds after they have migrated from their seasonal-nesting area.

Even though the Coastal Commission and State Parks both operate under the umbrella of the California Natural Resources Agency, they have battled for control over the Oceano Dunes for more than four years, with taxpayers ultimately paying for court costs, legal fees and dust mitigation which currently exceeds $20 million.

In the second ruling, on Oct. 5, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge ordered State Parks to pay Friends of the Oceano Dunes $23,500 for attorneys’ fees after finding the state agency violated the California Public Records Act.


Reprinted from CalCoastNews.com

17 organizations write to oppose Oceano SVRA's draft Public Works Plan

17 organizations write to oppose Oceano SVRA's draft Public Works Plan

The undersigned businesses, associations, and enthusiast groups are opposed to several provisions in the proposed Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA) Public Works Plan (PWP) that was released on December 30, 2020. If implemented as drafted, the proposed PWP would fundamentally change the operation of ODSVRA which has been open to off-highway vehicle (OHV) use for many decades.

State Parks seeks additional input on future of Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo State Beach

Newly released plan available for public comment until March 2, 2021

State Parks seeks additional input on future of Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo State Beach

BREAKING: OHVMVR Commission holding meeting February 18

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) is seeking additional public feedback on how to adapt Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) and Pismo State Beach (SB) to changing environmental, safety and recreational conditions.

Three-phase reopening announced for Oceano SVRA

First phase begins October 30

Three-phase reopening announced for Oceano SVRA

California State Parks today announced a three-phased reopening plan for vehicular use at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) and Pismo State Beach (SB), starting Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Vehicular access to all state park units was closed in March to prevent visitation surges and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Important meetings coming up on Oceano

Help us get the dunes reopened

Important meetings coming up on Oceano

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.

Northern Natural Resources Consultant Report - July 2020

Oceano Dunes SVRA

With the SVRA now closed due to the recent Covid-19 restrictions, the surrounding local economy has been devastated. The tourism that brings revenue into the community has come to a halt. Nearly all of the retail stores, restaurants, hotels, rental companies, and other small businesses in the area are just struggling to stay afloat.

Northern Natural Resources Consultant Report - May 2020

Carnegie SVRA Alameda-Tesla Expansion Legislation- April 2020

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.

Public meeting on Oceano Dunes Habitat Conservation Plan May 13

Meeting will be via Zoom

Public Meeting Purpose:

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.

Northern Natural Resources Consultant Report - February 2020

State Parks transformation meeting

California State Parks held a special Off-highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission meeting in Sacramento to discuss State Parks transformation process. The OHV community has always been very skeptical of the transformation process and many have asked why it was needed. State Parks says they had to fold the OHMVR Division back into State Parks because they felt it was more efficient and it would save money. But the OHV community fears that they just want to tap into our gas tax trust fund (green sticker fund) money. State Parks has always operated in the red and is always looking for more money from the general fund, while the OHMVR Division uses no general fund money and is always in the black.

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