November 26, 2013
The Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA) and the Colorado off Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO), have announced the formation of a strategic alliance between the 2 organizations to address all OHV recreation issues in Colorado.
This alliance will make maximum use of the resources in both organizations to help protect and enhance OHV recreation on public lands in Colorado.
Archive | November, 2013
Big Wilderness is Knocking at our Door
November 8, 2013
The following is re-published with permission.
BIG WILDERNESS IS KNOCKING AT OUR DOOR
When congress enacted the original Wilderness legislation in 1964, it seemed, like all other impending environmental bills, a pretty good idea. The act envisioned about 15 million acres of already highly restricted land, containing no roads or other impacts of man, would ultimately be designated.
But over the years the political environmentalists and their friends in the judiciary mutilated this well intentioned law until it became the Frankenstein monster, intent on devouring every scenic acre in its path. Instead of being the last resort classification for the most rare and exemplary natural landscapes, Wilderness is now the default designation for all public lands, having thus far consumed over 150 million acres with no end in sight.
Luckily we in Utah have been substantially spared the onslaught of this BLM land grabbing juggernaut except for Washington County which was sacrificed to the Earth Goddess Gaia by the closet democrat Bob Bennett, who revealed his true colors by taking a job with the Wilderness Society shortly after being booted out by an unusually perceptive Republican convention.
Sadly, we are again in great danger of massive Wilderness mediated, not by the political environmentalists as we might expect, but rather by lobbyists paid for by the taxpayers of Emery County! They have produced a bill that they claim must be passed in all possible haste, calling for a whopping 150,000 acres in excess of the long established and exorbitantly large Wilderness Study Areas.
This is wrong on so many levels. Here are just a few examples of why this bill must never see the light of day. First, most of the land in question does not fit the requirements of the 1964 law. It is not pristine and untrammeled by man and contains many hundreds of miles of roads. There were thousands of mines with bull dozers crawling all over the place in the 50’s and 60’s. Because roads are incompatible with Wilderness, The BLM’s publications have gone to incredible linguistic contortions to avoid the word “road”, but their “doublespeak” doesn’t change the reality on the ground or make the roads vanish.
Second, ALL future economic development will be forever outlawed. The inhabitants of Emery County and all other areas subject to Wilderness Designation will become the servants and porters for politically correct eco-tourists, which will become the only remaining economic activity. Grazing will be banned (check the GSENM if you have any doubt of this), and meanwhile our revered President Obama has made no secret of killing coal as an energy resource. No new mining, oil exploration, or non eco- tourism development will be allowed. The people of “the Wilderness Lands will become trespassers on their own land; outcasts from the King’s Forest Wilderness will create.
Third, Wilderness Designation is unconstitutional and illegally discriminatory. It violates the First Amendment by implementing religious gospels through the force of law. If you have any doubt as to the religious nature of the Environmental movement and their beloved Wilderness, just check their writings and their reverence to Earth Goddess Gaia. In addition, Wilderness bans all motorized and mechanized traffic, even on existing roads, thereby shutting out every American with a mobility disability, which includes most of our elderly people and other protected populations. It’s quite odd that at a time of supreme political correctness, where the rights of every minority are given almost holy status, the rights of so many other good people are dismissed without apology or even notice. Fortunately, there are a number of powerful laws and constitutional protections that, if finally invoked, will shatter the Wilderness paradigm.
Forth, the fallacious argument propelling the current Wilderness Crusade proclaims that our beloved President Obama will act if we don’t designate immediately. Well, this is analogous to committing suicide in order to avoid the possibility of being murdered. Very effective but not very smart! President Obama hates Utah and will do whatever pleases the political environmentalists independent of our action or inaction. The tragedy here is that the Republicans didn’t fix the Antiquities Act when they had the chance. Much of the blame goes to them (and especially to Orrin Hatch) if President Obama creates a National Monument, which, it should be noted, is not nearly as bad as Wilderness. National Monuments can be managed for multiple use and are reversible, neither of which applies to Wilderness.
The people of Utah must to stand up and say NO to this insane sellout to the political environmentalists. Remember, they will take what you give them now and soon come back for the rest. There is no compromise possible with them, ever. There is zero benefit to us in Wilderness designation, which shifts total control of our public land to Washington D.C., where powerful interests inimical to Utah will always be in control. The only defensible position is NO MORE WILDERNESS!
So, what can we do now? First of all, we must stop squandering Emery County Taxpayer’s money doing SUWA’s work. Frankly, SUWA has plenty of cash to lobby for massive wilderness and doesn’t require any subsidy. Just have a look at the luxurious TV commercials saturating the airwaves and you’ll see why. Second, the proposed phony Wilderness bill resulting from these efforts needs to be scrapped. Same goes for the other County Wilderness Bills now in the works. And Third, and most important, everyone must contact our Governor and all members of our congressional delegation demanding there be no more wilderness. Senator Mike Lee is especially critical because typically the opposition of just one Senator can torpedo a Wilderness bill applicable to his home state. Sadly, Senator Hatch has become prone to accommodating anything that increases the power of the Federal Government.
You can get full contact information for our congressional delegation at congress.com.
Political environmentalists love to say that once “Wilderness is gone, it’s gone forever”. If they could scrap the propaganda and actually tell the truth, this would become “Once Wilderness is here, it’s here forever”. And when it’s here, gone will be any hope of future economic prosperity for our children and grandchildren.
Like Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, what happens in the near future will be irreversible and set the stage for the future of our beloved State. Do we want distant tyrants who don’t like us to rule our land or do we want to be in control of our own dominion? The time is now and the choice is ours to make.
Richfield BLM Travek Plan Suffers Setback
November 5, 2013
The following is a media release from the BRC – re-published with permission.
BLUERIBBON COALITION, INC.
CONTACT: Paul Turcke
RICHFIELD BLM TRAVEL PLAN SUFFERS SETBACK
SALT LAKE CITY, UT (November 5, 2013) — The U.S. Court for the District of Utah yesterday issued a decision that declared certain aspects of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Richfield Field Office vehicle Travel Plan unlawful. BLM spent over six years preparing the Plan, which was released in October, 2008. The Plan covered 2.1 million acres in south-central Utah, and substantially reduced vehicle access, nearly eliminating “open” designations and restricting vehicle travel to a reduced network of designated routes.
Despite these restrictions, a coalition of preservationist groups led by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance challenged the Travel Plan. Many of their arguments were rejected, but the Court ruled that BLM failed to adequately tie its route designations to the “minimization criteria” first announced in a pair of forty year-old Executive Orders, and failed to conduct on-the-ground inventories for archeological resources in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act.
“We are, of course, disappointed in this result,” stated Brian Hawthorne, Utah Policy Advisor with the BlueRibbon Coalition, an access advocacy group. Hawthorne noted the on the ground effects of the ruling remain to be seen because the Court has yet to decide how the BLM should remedy the 2008 Travel Plan. “Our work here is far from finished and begins with encouraging the Court to shape a properly limited remedy that allows the BLM to efficiently finish its business,” Hawthorne concluded.
Numerous parties intervened in the case to respond to the preservationist claims, including the Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA), Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO) and the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC).
This decision comes in a long line of battles over BLM access management in Utah. A 2000 lawsuit by SUWA was dismissed on a motion filed by BRC, and that ruling was affirmed by a 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2004. A copy of yesterday’s decision can be viewed at http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/329-Memorandum_Decision_and_Order-11.4.13.pdf.
The Court will accept further briefing on the question of remedy. The litigation schedule contemplates now moving to the preservationists’ challenges to five other Utah Plans, which include the Moab, Vernal, Price, Monticello and Kanab field offices.
Objections Appeal to Tres Rios BLM Plan
Attached is the appeal of the BLM Tres Rios plan that was submitted November 3, 2013. There are some major issues with the plan. The economic analysis is simply tragic and we would hope provide the basis for a successful appeal of recreational allocations on that basis alone. The Plan proposes some significant closures for summer usage and closes some well known riding areas for winter like Molas Pass.
Nov 3, 2013
RE: Objections/Appeal to Tres Rios BLM Plan
Dear Ms Hudgens-Williams;
Please accept this correspondence and attachments as the appeal and objections of the above Organizations with regard to the BLM portions of the San Juan/Tres Rios (SJ/TR) Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”) and Resource Management Plan (“RMP”). It is the Organizations position that the analysis of many issues is arbitrary and capricious as a matter of law and fails to provide the hard look at issues mandated by NEPA. Often these analysis and management standards are made in violation of numerous other statutes and regulations.
The SJ/TR FEIS and RMP assert that economic contributions are based on and consistent with USFS VNVUM analysis and specifically cites to recently released NVUM research. This position is facially arbitrary and capricious and must be reversed as the SJ/TR conclusions are anything but consistent with the NVUM conclusions as evidenced by the fact the SJ/TR asserts to be providing analysis consistent with high spending forests. This is directly contradicted by the conclusions regarding the spending profiles of user groups that are reached in the SJ/TR FEIS as these conclusions are often numerous factors less than the spending profiles that are identified for user groups for a low average spending forest. For several user groups, the average spend for that group is completely outside the conclusions for the range of spending for the same group.
In addition to arbitrary and capricious analysis of economic issues, the current management of numerous locations in the SJ/TR planning area are not accurately reflected in the FEIS/RMP. These are areas with long histories of motorized usage that remain open to such legal usage at this time. The effectiveness of current management in mitigating management issues is simply never addressed before additional management restrictions are applied as part of the FEIS/RMP. As the baseline of management is not accurately reflected in the FEIS/RMP and assertion that the change in management was meaningfully analyzed is arbitrary and capricious as the FEIS analysis asserts there is no change in the management of these areas and such analysis fails to satisfy the hard look requirements of NEPA.
The FEIS/RMP also proposed to make landscape level determinations regarding the suitability/unsuitability of areas for motorized usage. While these determinations appear to be limited to USFS lands the future of this standard for possible application on BLM lands is unclear. As such the errors in the development of this standard are addressed here and the Organizations are not comfortable in assuming that BLM areas currently limited to existing or designated routes currently will not be designated as unsuitable at some point in the future.
Several factors appear to have been relied on in the determinations of area suitability that arbitrarily and capriciously conflict with both agency analysis and USFS regulations such as the Colorado Roadless Rule. How most of these factors are integrated into the final suitability determinations simply are not addressed Habitat areas are excluded from future suitability despite USFWS analysis made as part of the Endangered Species Act review process that motorized usage of these areas for numerous species is not an issue. Roadless areas are managed under a single standard of review that conflicts with the newly released Colorado Roadless Rule and fails to analyze how areas motorized usage would be a protected characteristic of a roadless area and then found to be unsuitable for motorized usage in two review process that occurred at functionally the same time in the same area.
Prior to addressing the specific appeal points, a brief summary of each Organization is needed. The Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (“COHVCO”) is a grassroots advocacy organization of approximately 2,500 members seeking to represent, assist, educate, and empower all OHV recreationists in the protection and promotion of off-highway motorized recreation throughout Colorado. COHVCO is an environmental organization that advocates and promotes the responsible use and conservation of our public lands and natural resources to preserve their aesthetic and recreational qualities for future generations.
The Trail Preservation Alliance (“TPA”) is a 100 percent volunteer organization whose intention is to be a viable partner, working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to preserve the sport of trail riding. The TPA acts as an advocate of the sport and takes the necessary action to insure that the USFS and BLM allocate to trail riding a fair and equitable percentage of access to public lands.
Colorado Snowmobile Association (“CSA”) was founded in 1970 to unite winter motorized recreationists across the state to enjoy their passion. CSA currently has 2,500 members. CSA has become the voice of organized snowmobiling seeking to advance, promote and preserve the sport of snowmobiling by working with Federal and state land management agencies and local, state and federal legislators. For purposes of these comments, Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, the Trail Preservation Alliance and Colorado Snowmobile Association will be referred to as “the Organizations” in this appeal.
It is the Organizations position that the FEIS and RMP must be remanded to the Field Office for further analysis of the issues more specifically addressed in this appeal. The analysis of these issues and associated balance of uses that will result from meaningful analysis and a hard look at accurate information must then be provided to the public for an additional comment period. It is the Organizations position that an RMP for this area that is based on accurate economic information and accurate application of management standards will look significantly different that the current management standards sought to be applied.
Download the attached PDF (above) to read the entire document