State Parks/county deal could end recreation at Oceano SVRA
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State Parks has been bullied into a deal with the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD). We have officially been set-up to incrementally lose all recreation opportunity in our park over the next five years starting November of this year!
State Parks and the county Air Pollution Control District agreed to a landmark settlement this week that officials say would reduce air pollution from Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area by about 30 percent by 2023 and cause some off-road riding areas to be closed this year.
A group that represents off-roading enthusiasts says a “radical” five-year plan to decrease dust pollution from the Oceano Dunes would harm endangered species and was adopted after “last-minute substantial changes” that hindered public input, according to a lawsuit the group filed this week.
Friends of the Oceano Dunes sued the California Coastal Commission in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court in response to the commission’s September decision to issue a permit to State Parks to reduce the spread of dust that creates hazardous air conditions on the Nipomo Mesa.
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.
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.
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.
A copy of yesterday’s decision can be viewed at this link.