Natural resources report for May 2023
BLM INVITES PUBLIC INPUT ON MOJAVE TRAILS NATIONAL MONUMENT MANAGEMENT PLAN
The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public input to inform a monument management plan for the 1.6-million-acre Mojave Trails National Monument in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The Mojave Trails National Monument was designated by Presidential Proclamation 9395 in February 2016 to protect the site’s cultural and historic resources and maintain its diverse natural and scientific values for the benefit of all Americans. The management plan will focus on preserving and protecting the monument’s cultural, physical, social, biological, historic and scientific objects and values. This planning effort also seeks nominations for areas of critical environmental concern within the planning area. The proposed plan may amend the California Desert Conservation Area Plan.
Public input will help guide the development of the monument plan and identify issues, planning criteria, concerns, potential impacts, alternatives, and mitigation measures that should be considered in the environmental analysis. Public scoping meetings will be held on May 24, 30, 31, and June 1. It is critical for OHV enthusiasts to attend and advocate for protection of OHV recreation and public access in balance with environmental and cross-jurisdictional concerns. Meeting details: http://ow.ly/60iO50OuYIi
Substantive written comments may be submitted anytime through June 20. The BLM will consider all substantive public comments in preparation of the analysis, which will be made available for public review on the BLM’s National NEPA Register website: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/admin/project/2022347/510
CALDOR FIRE RESTORATION PROJECT VIRTUAL PUBLIC SCOPING MEETINGS
Eldorado National Forest will hold two virtual public scoping meetings on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, to present and discuss the proposal for the future of the Caldor Fire Restoration Project. The Caldor Fire Restoration Project encompasses activities on National Forest System lands that were impacted by the Caldor Fire, including locations where roads and fuel treatments may extend outside the fire perimeter to adjacent communities. The Forest Service seeks to restore a healthy ecosystem that is resilient to future wildfires. Proposed treatments include mechanical fuel reduction, prescribed burning, reforestation, salvage harvest, watershed restoration, and repair of infrastructure such as roads and recreation sites damaged by fire.
Cal4Wheel members are encouraged to comment on the Caldor Fire Restoration Plan to advocate for preservation of OHV access, and full restoration of roads and trails that were impacted by the fire. Join one of the two virtual public meetings on May 31 at either 10:30am or 6:00pm. Don't miss the chance to get all your questions answered. Meeting details: http://ow.ly/F3ZL50OyIQX
For more information, visit the project website https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=63359. The comment period for this project closes on June 16, 2023.
PROPOSED BLM RULE TO DEVASTATE PUBLIC LAND ACCESS
The BLM is currently advancing a proposed rule which could lead to massive restrictions for public land access across all lands managed by the BLM. The rule would prioritize designating Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and designate "conservation" as a use on public lands as well as authorizing conservation leases. This rule will essentially privatize conservation on public land and result in public land being sold to the highest bidder. The highest bidders for conservation leases will most likely be organizations like the Sierra Club, which will use their position as conservation leaseholders to limit other uses on public land.
The BLM currently manages 15% of the total sum of all land in California, and most of that land contains active populations and habitat for a large number of species that are listed or proposed for listing as Endangered or Threatened. Across the USA, there are over 1,300 species currently listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), many of those species are in California. Additionally, there are over 250 species listed under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Lands that host ESA and CESA species will be primary targets for the BLM to authorize conservation leases or implement “conservation” as a designated “use” of public land. Thus, if the BLM’s proposed rule is approved, we face the real risk of having large swaths of BLM land in California closed to multiple uses like outdoor recreation, including OHV recreation.
Our friends at BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) are currently facilitating an Action Alert to gather public comments on this proposed rule. Please support the fight to stop the BLM from implementing “conservation” as a designated public land use! Go to the BRC website to submit a comment letter through their Action Alert today.
RECORD OF DECISION RELEASED FOR SEQUOIA AND SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST LAND MANAGEMENT PLANS
The highly controversial Revised Land Management Plans for the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests have progressed a step further, as the Record of Decision was released by the Forest Service on Friday, May 26. Cal4Wheel fully engaged in the planning process for both Forests throughout Scoping and Analysis, Objections, and Objection Resolution. Following Objection Resolution meetings, I submitted a formal complaint to the Forest Service to request immediate resolution, and set the stage to escalate a request for Congressional oversight, regarding the Forest Service’s implementation of NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process violations within the Sequoia and Sierra National Forest Land Management Plan Revisions objection resolution.
The Forest Service responded to the complaint with a brief letter that only partially addressed the items noted in the Complaint, dismissing some, and completely ignoring the others. Their response indicated the Forest Service’s intent to move forward with a Record of Decision without regard for our call to correct NEPA process violations and remove illegal components of the Plan contents.
In addition to addressing the issues within each Plan directly with the Forest Service, I collaborated with county leaders within Fresno and Tulare County to ensure that local governments were aware of the gross overreach of authority that the Forest Service is attempting to execute through implementation of this set of Forest Plan revisions. We were thrilled that county leadership took interest in the issue and reached out to Congressional representatives independently to further escalate the call for Congressional oversight. While a great deal of momentum has been building towards activation of Congressional oversight, with efforts coordinated directly through the offices of Speaker McCarthy, Congressman McClintock, and several other California congressional representatives, the Forest Service released the Record of Decision before formal oversight was initiated.
We were pleased to join forces with other outdoor recreation groups to escalate our mutual efforts to seek Congressional oversight. We sent a unified letter to Congress on April 26 to share our collective grievances and requests. Read the letter via this link.
Many Cal4Wheel members supported our efforts to resolve these issues by joining in the Action Alert to call Congressional representatives and advocate for oversight. Many thanks to each Cal4Wheel member who made calls! Your time and advocacy are greatly appreciated!
Following release of the Record of Decision, the Forest Plans will be approved with a Notice of Plan Approval published in the Federal Register. The Regional Forester’s lists of species of conservation concern for the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests have also been updated. The forest plans will go into effect 30 days after publication of the Notice of Plan Approval. Copies of these documents are available on the forest plan revision documents page.
Cal4Wheel’s efforts to seek resolution for violations within each Forest Plan are not over… next steps could include a formal appeal of the Record of Decision and/or legal action.
CAL4WHEEL OPPOSES ENDANGERED SPECIES LISTING FOR CALIFORNIA SPOTTED OWL
I submitted comments to oppose the listing of two distinct populations of California Spotted Owl as "Endangered" or "Threatened." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed listing the Sierra Nevada Distinct Population Segment as “Threatened” with the Section 4(d) Rule, and the Coastal-Southern California Distinct Population Segment as ”Endangered.” If approved, the listing would impact all forms of human activity, including OHV recreation, throughout the Spotted Owl’s range of territory across the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Coastal Range.
After reviewing the proposal for listing, the letter cited evidence of:
- Negative impacts to other species, OHV recreation, local economies, and balanced forest management
- Increased risk of catastrophic wildfire resulting from restrictions imposed on timber and fuel management
- Severely flawed data within the analysis of need to justify distinction between the two population segments
- Missing data related to correlation between human activity generally, and OHV recreation specifically, as a source of detrimental impact on Spotted Owl livelihood and habitat
- Benefits of OHV roads and trails as vital fuel breaks and firefighter access to prevent and suppress catastrophic wildfire in remote areas across California’s public lands
Review the full comment letter via this link: https://bit.ly/cal4-spotted-owl-objection
- Land Use
- Special Use Permits
- Western Pond Turtle
- california state parks
- carnegie svra
- comment letters
- desert advisory council
- eldorado national forest
- endangered species
- foothill yellow legged frog
- forest plan revisions
- imperial sand dunes
- joshua tree
- lake tahoe
- lassen national forest
- oceano svra
- ohmvr commission
- ohv grants
- ohv trails
- red rock canyon
- sequoia national forest
- sierra national forest
- travel management plan
- us fish and wildlife