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Land Use Outlook, October 2006
Most BlueRibbon Magazine readers utilize our Land Use Outlook feature for a quick snapshot of some of the recreational access issues BRC is involved in. Many are impressed with the NASA developed Land Use Satellite technology. In fact, we often get requests from the NSA regarding where we got our super-accurate land use tracking know-how.
But what readers may not know is that our Land Use Weather Satellite also has a priority tracking feature. That means that aside from the many recreational access storm fronts, it can specifically track important land use planning activities simultaneously. These are priority items that have regional or national implications or have the potential to impact recreational access outside the local area.
This month, we thought we'd show you just a few of the priority items we are tracking. It isn't a complete list, and it doesn't mean that your local issue isn't important to BRC. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact us. As for you NSA guys: quit asking! We aren't going to divulge the source of our Land Use Satellite technology to anyone! ^
CALIFORNIA: All National Forests in the Golden State are moving ahead with developing Travel Plans. Reports from BRC Land Use Weather Watchers vary from district to district. We're pleased to say that many report good weather at this time. There are a few National Forests that we are monitoring closely and two that may have regional significance. The issues are complicated and I don't have time to list the details here, but we are keeping a close eye on the Sequoia and the Eldorado National Forests. After the Eldorado NF offered a very disappointing draft proposal, BRC and the California Enduro Riders Association responded by submitting a pro-access alternative. Another trail based recreation group, the Stewards of the Sequoia introduced a pro-access alternative on the Sequoia National Forest. We will report how the agency responds to these site specific suggestions. More on the web: FS California OHV Webpage: www.fs.fed.us/r5/routedesignation -- California Enduro Riders Association: www.cera.org -- Stewards of the Sequoia: www.stewardsofthesequoia.org
MONTANA: While most National Forests in Montana are revising their Forest Plans, two important travel plans remain on target lock for the BRC Land Use Weathermen. The Little Belt/Crazy/Castle Mountain Ranges on the Lewis and Clark NF are undergoing travel planning. This is a high priority item for BRC because the FS is proposing the elimination of entire trail systems. It's not just trails that are threatened. Major roads that are valued by hunters, campers and sightseers are also proposed for closure. The Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association and other pro-access groups have submitted a pro-access alternative. In addition to the Little Belt/Crazy/Castle plan, the Gallatin NF is scheduled to release their final Record of Decision any day. This is one of the largest travel planning projects to come after the Forest Service Travel Management Rule and, as such, will likely be challenged by all stakeholders. Several Montana based access groups, including Citizens for Balanced Use, are likely to appeal this important plan. The Little Belt/Crazy/Castle Mountain planning webpage: www.fs.fed.us/r1/lewisclark/projects/index-littlebelts.shtml -- Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association: www.mtvra.com - Citizens for Balanced Use: www.citizensforbalanceduse.com
COLORADO: Most of the route designation currently underway on National Forests concerns rubber-tired motorized use. However, in the Lewis and Clark plan mentioned above, as well as the White River National Forest in Colorado, both summer and winter motorized recreation is at issue. This makes the White River one of our top priorities in Colorado. Another priority is the Gunnison NF travel plan, primarily because of the high quality trail system in the area and statements by the anti-access groups regarding their complete unwillingness to even consider keeping the trail system intact. It's a good thing our partner in the Centennial State is well organized and ready for action. The Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition is working with BRC on both of these important issues. More info on the web: www.cohvco.org
NEW MEXICO: Our land use weather radar is fixed on several important trail systems in New Mexico, where the anti-access groups have thrown down the gauntlet, hiring a team of paid activists to influence the process. BRC is tracking all of the forests in New Mexico and keeping watch on those paid anti-access advocates too! Thankfully, the Land of Enchantment is home to some of the most effective access advocates around. Of note, Joanne Spivack of the New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance and Mark Werkmeister, of the New Mexico 4-Wheelers. More info on the web: New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance: www.nmohva.org - New Mexico 4-Wheelers www.nm4w.org
MISSISSIPPI: Our Land Use Weathermen are tracking the route designation process on the Holly Springs NF because the agency appears to be following the "close everything first" strategy. We have met with the FS route planners to discuss our concerns as well as offer assistance in protecting resources. The Memphis Motorcycle Club is extremely disappointed with the situation because they had worked to secure funding for fences, bridges and other management in order to address the problems. Sadly, the agency refused the help saying such management requires environmental analysis before it can begin. Unbelievable. More info on the web: www.memphismotorcycleclub.com/
ARKANSAS: In some districts of the Ozark NF, the amount of routes the agency wants to close is truly astonishing. For a graphic representation, access the Pleasant Hill Ranger District proposed map at: www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/recreation/OHV/routes.html BRC is tracking the progress of the route designation process and assessing its impacts on dispersed camping, hunting and game retrieval as well as affects to motorized users.
MICHIGAN: Last month we told you about recreational interests challenging new National Forest plans in Michigan. BRC's land use weathermen are also tracking the Michigan Department of Natural Resources comprehensive off-road vehicle management plan. Michigan's DNR has been working on the new plan since May of 2004. It is expected to be final soon. Complicating the process is a "forest certification audit" and it's finding that an unacceptable level of environmental damage is resulting from illegal use on state owned lands. This is a serious matter that must be addressed by the Department and the OHV community. More info on the web: Michigan Department of Natural Resources: www.michigan.gov/dnr