Access Issues

West Mojave (WEMO) route network project update

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, I attended the WEMO meeting hosted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Victorville.  The meeting provided an overview of the project and the coming steps.

Critical dates coming are January 25, 2016 which is the close of the comment period.

Late spring 2016, BLM expects to release the proposed WEMO Plan Amendment and Travel Management Plans with a projected final release in early fall of 2016. The BLM is facing a Court Order to complete the project by November 30, 2016.

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Cal4Wheel files protest on Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan

Cal4Wheel has filed a protest of the recently released Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).

After reviewing the documents, Cal4Wheel believes the DRECP, as modified from previous versions, is regressive and limits public participation in future site-specific/project level analysis opportunities.  Cal4Wheel objects to the “ground disturbance” caps which are applied in an arbitrary manner.  Such specific criteria is not appropriate for a “programmatic” document as they apply limitations that confine future projects in scope.  Cal4Wheel believes the agency has exceeded the guidance for a programmatic document in developing the DRECP. The DRECP does make decisions – both inside and outside the WMRNP project area - to approve or deny specific projects based on the management prescriptions or caps assigned to the various “zones” (e.g. SRMA/ERMA/NLCS/ACEC/Conservation/Ground Disturbance Caps, etc.). That action does imply decisions on land use allocations, allowable uses, and management actions, which are beyond the “programmatic” scope of the document at a programmatic level.

Download the comments here

BLM proposes changes to Sage Grouse land use plan

BLM Proposes Changes to the NV & CA Greater Sage Grouse Bi-State Distinct Population Segment Land Use Plan Amendment

Photo of Greater Sage Grouse courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management

The BLM has recently announced an opportunity to comment on potential changes to the Proposed Plan(s) as set forth in the Greater Sage Grouse Bi-State Distinct Population Segment Forest Plan Amendment/Final Environmental Impact Statement. The United States Forest Service was the lead agency for preparing the environmental impact statement (EIS) and land use plan amendment. The BLM is proposing to amend the Carson City District Office Resource Management Plan (RMP) and the Tonopah Field Office RMP based on the analysis in this EIS. Public comments will be accepted through December 14, 2015.

Following release of the Final EIS and Proposed Plan, the BLM determined based on protests received and additional internal reviews that additional changes to and a clarification of the Proposed Plan was required. The clarification and changes include

  • setting disturbance caps within BSSG habitat;
  • adjusting buffers for tall structures near active or pending leks,
  • adding a restriction for new high-voltage transmission lines, and
  • additional management direction for habitat connectivity.

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Small subset of Sierra Nevada Red Fox Warranted for ESA listing

Service finds subspecies not in danger of extinction across its entire range

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that the Sierra Nevada red fox as a whole does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, a small population of the fox located north of Yosemite National Park is warranted-but-precluded from ESA listing by higher priorities at this time.

The most up-to-date scientific information available, some of it discovered since the time the Service was petitioned to list the Sierra Nevada red fox, shows it is more widespread than originally thought, residing in suitable habitat in Oregon as well as California. Based on this information, the Service determined that the Sierra Nevada red fox as a whole is not at risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.

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Rep. Paul Cook introduces California Minerals, Off Road Recreation and Conservation Act

Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) introduced HR 3668, the California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act. This bill presents a balanced approach to protecting, managing, and using our desert and forest areas in San Bernardino and Inyo Counties. This bill would deal with the management of existing federal land and would not result in an increase in federal landownership.

This bill establishes a Mojave Trails Special Management Area (SMA) in an area south of the existing Mojave Preserve and northeast of the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. This designation protects existing mining operations and allows for future mining exploration as long as mining projects never exceed ten percent of the total acreage. It would also prevent the installation of any industrial-scale renewable energy projects. Additionally, this bill would protect from development any lands within the management area donated to the federal government for conservation purposes. Over 1,200 miles of roads and off-road vehicle trails are written into law as well.

This bill establishes five new National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas in Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes, and Stoddard Valley, together creating the first system of National Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Areas in the nation. Additionally, it redesignates Johnson Valley as a National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area and expands it by nearly 20,000 acres. This bill affords additional protections to OHV users and ensures that these areas cannot be closed administratively. In total, this legislation preserves a total of 300,000 acres for OHV recreational use.

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Cal4Wheel braces for predicted storm over Sage Grouse

The California Four Wheel Drive Association (Cal4Wheel) today responded to the just-announced Department of Interior decision that endangered species listing for the greater sage grouse is "not warranted." 

“We believe this decision of listing is 'not warranted' is appropriate," announced John Stewart, Natural Resources Consultant for Cal4Wheel.  “However, while agency leadership is proclaiming a great victory and collaborative success story, the 'devil is in the details' and we expect to become mired in avoidable litigation.” 

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Friends of Oceano Dunes win Air Pollution Control District lawsuit

Entrance signs at Oceano SVRA

Court rules against Oceano SVRA dust rule

After three years of litigation challenging the Oceano Dunes “dust rule,” the 2nd Appellate Court in Ventura ruled Monday that the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) does not have the power to regulate air emissions at state parks through the permit process.

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Coastal Commission wants habitat conservation plan for Oceano Dunes

The Coastal Commission wants to see a habitat conservation plan for the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area completed sooner than later.

“All this goes to show we haven’t accomplished anything,” Commissioner Mary Shallenberger said about the numerous issues surrounding the operation and maintenance of the Oceano Dunes SVRA.

Shallenberger’s comments came during a lengthy permit review hearing in Shell Beach on Wednesday for the popular off-road vehicle park that hadn’t been reviewed by the commission since 2007.

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McClintock appointed chair of House Subcommittee on Federal Lands

Congress spent much of January getting itself organized. This means appointing committee members and subcommittee members as well as adopting procedural rules for each committee. This process also involves hiring new staff for the various committees.

Of particular interest to us is the fact that Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) is the new chairman of the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands, formerly known the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. (We prefer the new name.) We have worked with Rep. McClintock and his staff on a number of issues over the years and believe he has a very good understanding of our issues. He replaces Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) as subcommittee chair since Rep. Bishop has moved up to become the Chairman of the full committee. With Chairman Bishop and Subcommittee Chair McClintock, the House Resources Committee has a strong team of leaders in place and we look forward to active engagement with them over the course of the next two years.

Link to article: http://www.arra-access.com/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5863

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