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THE DAY HAS COME - YOUR HELP IS NEEDED TO HELP REMOVE THE CLOSURE STAKES!
The American Sand Association (aSa) is working on a volunteer effort, in conjunction with the BLM, to start the process of removing the closure stakes in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. More specifically, the small central closure near Gecko Campground and the 160 acres in Buttercup. The Buttercup project will also call for assistance with the reinstallation of the critical habitat closure near the US/Mexico border.
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.
The Mesa Community Alliance, a nonprofit activist group representing Nipomo Mesa residents, filed suit against San Luis Obispo County and the State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division on Feb. 27, 2014.
The lawsuit seeks to halt OHV activities on the Oceano Dunes SVRA until and unless State Parks complies with the controversial “dust rule.” The county Air Pollution Control District (APCD) enacted the “dust rule,” Rule 1001, in November 2011. The rule gives the district the ability to fine State Parks at its discretion when dust levels exceed state standards on the Nipomo Mesa.
The Bureau of Land Management California State Director announced that yesterday he signed the Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan for the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) in central California. BLM manages over eighty percent of the 75,000 CCMA, which has been subject to massive closures to all human access based on alleged health and safety fears over naturally-occurring asbestos found in the CCMA. Yesterday's decision, which concludes a process started in 2009, adopts the "preferred alternative" which would continue the closures that were originally imposed by BLM on a "temporary" basis in 2005. BLM's announcement was published in today's Federal Register, and can be viewed online HERE.
"This is an unfortunate but perhaps anticlimactic step in a 'planning' process that has dragged on for years," said Don Amador, Western Representative of the BlueRibbon Coalition, a group which has long advocated for greater public access to the CCMA. "Despites decades of regular use, there are virtually no cases of death or injury attributable to exposure to the CCMA's chrysotile asbestos, but BLM made it clear long ago that at the CCMA it will close in fear rather than actively manage," Amador noted. "We will continue to pursue our administrative, judicial, and legislative strategies designed to restore balanced management to the CCMA," Amador concluded.
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.
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: