Natural Resources Report for July 2023
BLM PROPOSED RULE: CONSERVATION & LANDSCAPE HEALTH
I submitted comments on behalf of Cal4Wheel to oppose The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Proposed Rule: Conservation and Landscape Health. According to the BLM, they recently discovered that secret statutory authority has been hiding in plain sight for 50 years in the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) that allows them to create and sell conservation leases on the 247 million acres of public land managed by the BLM across the USA.
It is critical to note that 15.3% of all land within California is managed by the BLM. This means that 16+ million acres of California’s public land would be up for grabs to be stripped away from public access! Through this lease program, the highest bidder would have the authority to ban any/all uses and public access to the leased acreage they are paying for. The leases are intended to be written as permanent contracts – thus once a class of use or access is banned, that leased public land would NEVER re-enter the domain of public use and access, unless the lease holder chose to change their management protocol.
This rule is problematic on multiple levels, and should be withdrawn. Off-road enthusiasts from across the USA have opposed this rule for the following reasons. Major issues with the rule include:
- The BLM does not have the authority to create this rule. FLPMA does not permit a conservation lease scheme; if Congress wanted the BLM to administer such a program, they would have expressly authorized it. This scheme would also likely raise revenue for the government, which again, is something the BLM does not have authority to do. Only Congress can authorize a new program like this to raise revenue for the government.
- This rule is unnecessary: the BLM is already required to comply with dozens of other laws and executive orders to prioritize conservation on public lands. Scores of environmental lawsuits that get filed every year ensure that compliance with these laws is taken seriously. Despite the statutory requirement the BLM has to manage public lands for multiple use, conservation is already prioritized above all other uses on a regular basis.
- This rule expands the 30x30 agenda by requiring the BLM to take a “precautionary approach” when authorizing land uses that may impair “ecosystem resilience.” Given that the Proposed Rule is based, in part, on biden’s 30x30 and climate change Executive Orders (EO), including EO14008, we can conclude that nearly everything impairs “ecosystem resilience” and contributes to climate change. EO14008 opines that only land in its “natural state” meets the 30x30 requirements. Since this administration believes that ecosystem resilience is necessary to defeat climate change and only land in its natural state will meet the country’s climate goals, we can assume that the protection of the natural state means no human use of multiple use lands.
- This rule will implement Landscape Health Standards that will create confusion and chaos in the BLM permitting process for organized and casual recreational use of BLM lands. Agency staff will not have time to authorize permitted OHV events or do travel plans due to the added bureaucratic sludge created by Landscape Health Standards. Designated OHV sites will most likely see a loss of opportunity including entire areas being closed due to new definitions.
- This rule could easily lead to unintended foreign intervention in public land management. The opportunity to lease BLM land would be open to both American and foreign entities. Americans are already facing ongoing threats and sabotage of our agriculture and energy industries by Brazilian, Chinese, and other foreign corporations and governments.
As public land access advocates, we are concerned that this rule will be used to limit motorized recreation, dispersed camping, and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands. This rule will provide a new way for conservation organizations to create de facto wilderness where they have previously failed to get Congress to make wilderness designations. The $800 billion outdoor recreation industry thrives because of the BLM’s careful efforts to balance conservation with other uses. By prioritizing conservation even more than it already is, the BLM will undermine an industry that is fueling the livelihoods of tens of millions of citizens who live in the West.
Read the comment letter via this link: https://bit.ly/BLM-Proposed-Conservation-Rule
WESTERN JOSHUA TREE – NEW PROTECTED STATUS
The Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act was passed as part of the state budget agreement. For the first time ever, a budget trailer bill was used to create the equivalent of an Endangered Species Listing through the mechanism of budget legislation. This is a new peak in corrupt leverage of environmentalist interests through political action. Whereas ESA listings should require NEPA or CEQA compliance and public comment, the budget trailer bill facilitated neither.
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. I submitted comments for Scoping for the Caldor Fire Restoration Project in Eldorado National Forest to advocate for:
- Preservation of all existing recreational roads and trails during and following project completion
- Permanent retention of all roads that are created for the purpose of the project, that no roads will be decommissioned
- Restoration of historical OHV routes that have been previously closed in order to enhance the local recreation economy and eliminate bias in public land access against persons with disabilities
- Expansion of the boundaries of the CFRP to include remote back country and designated roadless areas within the burn scar, and the full range of Eldorado National Forest for fuel reduction and wildfire prevention efforts
- A detailed long-term maintenance plan to be implemented following completion of initial restoration efforts
I also noted that Cal4Wheel offers the ongoing support of club membership as volunteers to support the success of both immediate forest restoration and post-project maintenance needs.
Read the comment letter via this link: C4WDA - Caldor Fire Restoration (Scoping).pdf
USDA FOREST SERVICE PROPOSED RULE: LAND USES / SPECIAL USE PERMITS
The Forest Service published a proposed rule in March 2023 to amend its special use regulations to update the processing and monitoring fee schedules based on current Agency costs, provide for recovery of costs associated with processing special use proposals, and to remove the exemption for commercial recreation special use applications and authorizations that involve 50 hours or less to process or monitor. I submitted comments to oppose the Proposed Rule for Land Uses: Special Uses; Cost Recovery, Strict Liability Limit, and Insurance. The Rule is problematic on multiple levels, including:
- The Rule itself violates Congressional direction, Congressional intent, and FS operational guidelines
- It would minimize our ability to stage organized group events in national forests
- The FS did not provide public notice about the Proposed Rule, it was published covertly with zero outreach or announcement to impacted stakeholders and the general public.
- Members of the public who engage in organized outdoor recreation, including Cal4Wheel, are among the most immediately and significantly impacted by this proposed rule. In direct violation of the FS claim to promote grassroots participation in decisions and activities, the FS neglected to communicate, host public meetings, or otherwise coordinate any element of this proposed rule with organized outdoor recreation groups.
- Outdoor recreation is one of the primary, dominant uses of national forest lands within the scope of the multiple-use objective. This Proposed Rule significantly negatively impacts public access for outdoor recreation in FS managed lands.
- The Proposed Rule imposes additional, unnecessary red tape and bureaucratic hoops for the public to jump through, along with a significant increase in the cost of fees to secure special use permits, and thus excludes large segments of the population from the opportunity to continue enjoying access to public lands.
Read the comment letter via this link: C4WDA - Forest Service Proposed Rule Docket FS 2023-0001-0073 Comment.pdf
YAMAHA OUTDOOR ACCESS INITIATIVE GRANTS
The Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative is dedicated to those who work and play outdoors including those who rely on off-highway vehicles (OHVs) to ride, camp, hunt or fish. Supporting the outdoor enthusiast, the Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative’s mission is to provide practical support for efforts that promote safe, responsible use of OHVs, educate the public on proper recreational land use and wildlife conservation practices, and protect appropriate and sustainable access to public lands.
Each quarter, Yamaha accepts applications from non-profit or tax exempt groups (clubs & associations), public riding areas (local, state and federal), outdoor enthusiast associations and land conservation organizations, and communities with an interest in protecting, improving, expanding and/or maintaining access for safe, responsible and sustainable use by motorized off-road vehicles. Our committee will review each application and award funds to deserving projects.
To learn more and submit a grant application: https://yamahaoai.com/
- Land Use
- Special Use Permits
- caldor fire
- california state parks
- carnegie svra
- comment letters
- desert advisory council
- desert plan
- eldorado national forest
- endangered species
- foothill yellow legged frog
- forest plan revisions
- imperial sand dunes
- joshua tree
- lassen national forest
- oceano svra
- ohmvr commission
- ohv grants
- pismo state beach
- red rock canyon
- sequoia national forest
- sierra national forest
- travel management plan
- us fish and wildlife