Natural resources report for September 2022

| Rose Winn, Cal4Wheel Natural Resources Consultant | Natural Resources Consultant Reports

SEQUOIA AND SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST LAND MANAGEMENT PLAN REVISIONS

The objection submission process has been completed for the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests Land Management Plan Revisions. The revised drafts were released in 2019, however, revisions have been revisited since to account for changes across the forest terrain that resulted from multiple catastrophic fires in 2020 and 2021. Updates include designation of Wild & Scenic Rivers, efforts towards sustainable recreation, and an overhaul in structure of management of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT). Issues within the plan revisions that are of key concern to OHV enthusiasts include OHV trail closures in the Piute Mountains of Sequoia National Forest, violation of federal law within the planning process and overhaul of PCT management, bias of heavy input from the Pacific Crest Trail Association, and minimized public input from the OHV community throughout the planning process. Read Cal4Wheel’s objection letter via this link: https://bit.ly/seq-sierra-plan-objections

The next phase of this process is Objection Review. Sequoia and Sierra National Forests received 35 total objections. Objections can be viewed in the Public Reading Room. Objection resolution meetings are open to observation by the public; the date(s), location(s), and agenda(s) for the meeting(s) will be posted online on the project website.

ELDORADO NATIONAL FOREST ROADSIDE HAZARD TREE MITIGATION PROJECT

The Forest Service recently gathered public comments on the proposed Eldorado National Forest Roadside Hazard Tree Mitigation ProjectThis project will remove hazard trees for public health and safety within 200 feet of roads in the Placerville, Georgetown, Amador, and Pacific Ranger Districts. Project implementation may start as early as the spring of 2023. Hazard tree removal is critical to ensure that roads and trails, including OHV roads, remain open for public access.

Hazard trees near roads in the Eldorado National Forest have resulted from large wildfires, insect and disease infestations, periods of drought, and other causes. Last year, from August to October 2021, the Caldor Fire burned large portions of forest lands along 909 miles of roads leaving many dead, dying, and weakened trees.

The primary purpose of the proposed project is to reduce safety hazards that could impact roads. There are approximately 2,461 miles of roads in the project area to be considered, including OHV roads for recreational access, NFS maintenance level 1 through level 5 roads, state, county, local, and private roads. Cal4Wheel submitted comments to support this project. Read the comment letter via this link

Eldorado National Forest provides a summary of the project, maps, and other project information on the project website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=62238

LASSEN NATIONAL FOREST OHV MVUM UPDATE PROJECT

Lassen National Forest currently accepting public comments for the Lassen OHV MVUM Update Project. This project will enhance and diversify OHV recreation opportunities, increase the mileage and connectivity of existing roads available to off-highway vehicles, provide for public safety and resource protection, and update the Lassen Motorized Vehicle Use Map.

The analysis for this project covers 147.8 miles of road located throughout the Lassen National Forest. The approximate legal locations include Township 26N, Range 5- 6E; T27N R6,9E; T28N, R3-5E, T29N, R3-6,9E; T30N, R9E; T31N, R6-7E; T32N, R3,6-8,10E; T33N, R6-8E; T34N, R5-7E; T35N, R7E; T38N, R4E; T39N, R4E; and T40N, R4E, Mount Diablo Base and Meridian.

Public comments are currently being accepted on the Environmental Analysis (EA) through September 18. A copy of the EA document and maps, and directions on how to comment, can be found at the project website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55457.

CALREC SUSTAINABLE RECREATION VISION KEY WORKING GROUP

The State of California and the U.S. Forest Service are co-leading the Sustainable Recreation / CALREC Vision Key Working Group (SRCRV) for the development of a “Joint Strategy for Sustainable Outdoor Recreation in California” for California’s Wildfire & Forest Resilience Task Force. The purpose of the Joint Strategy is to increase access to sustainable outdoor recreation in California with a focus on identifying actions to support outdoor recreation as people and communities are increasingly vulnerable to wildfire and the impacts of smoke, in the past, the present, and into the future.

The SRCRV Key Working Group shared a working draft of the Joint Strategy during a series of meetings that were held in August. The Joint Strategy approaches recreation through an all-lands and all-waters approach with the expectation that actions may be implemented collaboratively by a variety of organizations and agencies, including groups for OHV enthusiasts such as Cal4Wheel. I attended the meetings to advocate for OHV interests, and was pleased to see President Josh Epstein, as well as others from OHV groups across California, in these meetings.

Next steps for this project include an informational and working group meeting by the California Wildfire & Forest Resilience Task Force on September 27: https://wildfiretaskforce.org/meetings/. By way of background, in the summer of 2021, California’s Wildfire & Forest Resilience Task Force tasked CALREC Vision, an effort sponsored by the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation (MLTPA), to establish, convene, and facilitate the Key Working Group to be co-led by the U.S. Forest Service and the State of California, charged with delivering Actions 3.13 and 3.14 of the California Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan

SB 894

SB 894, introduced by Senator Brian Jones, was passed by the California Legislature and is headed to Governor Newsom for action. SB 894 provides a way to register off-road competition vehicles, close the gaps in the regulation of off-highway vehicles used for competitions, and create a new identification system for competition vehicles. The ARRA (Americans for Responsible Recreational Access) created an easy comment opportunity for OHV enthusiasts to add their voice to the call for Governor Newsom to sign this legislation. Click here to send a message to Gov. Newsom urging him to sign SB 894 (Jones).

OHV COMMISSION MEETING: SEPTEMBER 15-16

The California Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission will conduct a tour in Tahoe National Forest on September 15, 2022, and meet on September 16, 2022. The tour and meeting are open to the public. I will be attending the meeting on September 16 to represent Cal4Wheel. A key focus of the meeting agenda is Oceano Dunes SVRA, with specific items including:

  • Review of the Draft Annual Report Work Plan (ARWP) and Stipulated Order of Abatement (SOA)
  • Discussion of the SOA, Case No. 17-01, in preparation for the San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Hearing Board meeting scheduled for October 14, 2022.
  • Proposed draft correspondence for SOA, Case No. 17-01, in preparation for the SLO APCD Hearing Board meeting on October 14 (Note: The SLO County APCD Hearing Board will review, and possibly act upon, the SOA, Case No. 17-01, at their October 14 upcoming meeting).

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