September 21 2008
Attention: Brenda Williams
1620 L Street N.W., Suite 1075
Washington D.C. 20036 Date: September 21, 2008
Re: Monticello PRMP/FEIS
This protest is being filed by:
Trails Preservation Alliance (TPA)
Director, Don Riggle
PO Box 38093
Colorado Springs Co 80937
Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition
Executive Director , Jerry Abboud
PO Box 620523
Littleton Colorado 80162
Our interest in filing this protest:
- The TPA is vitally interested in promoting and preserving sustainable motorized trails, primarily singletrack, to satisfy the recreational pursuit called “trailriding” which falls into the classification of “serious leisure,” as described by the endnote (*) following this protest.
- The loss of low-impact, dispersed trail opportunities as represented in the PRMP will impair access and curtail the development of sustainable, dispersed motor recreation. Concentrated vehicle use is detrimental to our sport and gives the false impression that our effects on the natural environment are always and only negative, when in fact there is no evidence in the research cited by BLM that there are any measurable negative effects of trail-based motor recreation. It is critical to us that the record be set straight.
- The C500 is vitally interested in accurate, science-based environmental analyses, to preserve and promote a healthy environment and to support rational planning decisions.
- TPA is vitally concerned that executive branch agencies follow the rule of law.
- The TPA is vitally interested in full disclosure and complete transparency, in the context of federal land planning, as set forth in the CFR, judicial precedents, and the laws enacted by Congress.
Issues Being Protested:
- We are protesting the unlawful BLM response to our comments. BLM responded to only two out of a total of six comments that we submitted during the comment period.
- In the two comments that did appear in the PRMP, BLM egregiously misrepresented what we said in our comments. In fact, our comments addressed factual information, issues raised in the PRMP, and proposals directly related to the Decision. There is no chapter or section in the CEQ regulations that authorizes or allows any agency to simply disregard comments that disagree with the BLM proposals and which do reveal omissions and errors that would substantially affect the BLM Decision.
- We contend that resolving recreational “user conflicts” is not a land-use allocation decision, and is outside BLM authority as set forth in FLPMA. It is critical to us that the record be set straight.
- Relying upon resolving recreational user conflict in land-use allocation decisions, even in part, is outside Congressional intentions for BLM as set forth not only in FLPMA but also in every other law from which BLM authority flows.
- Resolving “user conflict” represents a self-assigned expansion of BLM authority without public review.
- We are protesting the Travel Plan.
- We are protesting All road and route closures, because they are based on faulty research and no factual site-specific information.
- We are protesting establishment of Grand Gulch SRMA.
- We are protesting BLM’s failure to follow 40 CFR 1502.24.
- We are protesting the BLM claim of policy conflicts with NHPA.
- We are protesting the BLM claim of legal issues unique to OHV recreation.
Parts of Plan Being Protested:
- BLM Response to Comment.
- Purpose and Need, “Resolving User Conflicts,” and all language, allocations, and proposed regulations throughout the PRMP that flow from that concept.
- page 1-4, 1.3.1:
- Page 1-6 section 188.8.131.52: items 1, 2, and 5.
- Page 1-6, section 184.108.40.206.
- page 1-7 bullet item 3
- Bullet item # 1 on page 1.5
- The establishment of the Grand Gulch SRMA.
- Page N 24, Wildlife Conflicts.
- Page 3.87, part 220.127.116.11.2 “OHV Legal Issues.”
- Appendix N, Travel Plan, in its entirety, its methodology, and the proposed travel plan.
THE RESOLUTION WE SEEK:
We seek a higher review all of our comments. We seek the appropriate and necessary corrections to the PRMP where we have asked to have true information directly related to the analysis added, and where we have asked to have inaccurate information corrected or deleted.
After making the corrections we ask for, we seek a reconsideration of the proposed decision, where our comments clearly mandate a change in the outcome of the analysis.
Concise Statement of Why the Director’s Decision Is Wrong:
The comments we submitted during the comment period for this plan are attached, and will speak for themselves. Please review our comments, and withdraw this PRMP in order to make the appropriate revisions.
We contend that BLM’s failure to address any of our concerns during the comment period is clear evidence that BLM had already selected the outcomes BLM wanted. Our comments took issue with several of BLM’s proposals, and BLM could not properly and legally address our comments without substantially changing the (previously selected) Decision, and so BLM declined to publish our comments or to respond to them.
We have provided substantial evidence supporting our contention that BLM is using the RMP as an instrument to manufacture Wilderness.
We contend that resolving user conflict is not an RMP decision and is a serious, substantive issue arising in this and other BLM proposed plans. Publishing and lawfully addressing our concern will require a change in the BLM outcome and in the BLM policies set by this RMP, and thus BLM had no choice but to disregard our concerns. This is a serious breach of trust and a serious disregard for the lawful NEPA process as set forth by the CEQ.
We contend that basing any land use allocation decision upon resolving user conflict is arbitrary and capricious. Why? Because “conflict,” as manifested by individual differences of philosophy, values, or cultural attributes, is an ephemeral event. The evidence of a “user conflict” is hearsay, causing every incident of “conflict” to be supported only by hearsay. “User conflict” is neither defined nor quantifiable; and there is never any physical evidence. We strongly contend that, because of the diversity of publics who recreate on public lands and the diversity of the American population, resolving philosophical/cultural/values differences between public lands visitors engaged in different lawful activities could never have been a duty assigned to BLM by Congress.
We contend that the “policy conflict” between BLM and NHPA (in the matter of OHV) was manufactured by the BLM to enable itself to arbitrarily expand its authority over public lands visitors who use “OHV’s” for access and recreation.
After review of our comments, the reason BLM Monticello disregarded them will be obvious.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
* Endnote referenced on page one of this protest, under Our Interest in Filing This Protest
We are not attempting to deny that the are physical effects upon the natural environment from OHV recreation. We are attempting to help the BLM produce an accurate analysis. We all know there will be some effects. But the purpose of the NEPA is not to find that place where there are no effects. The purpose is to find the balance between the benefits of the human activity and the effects upon the natural environment. NEPA, Section 2 “prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man”, and Section 101 under Title I, “recognizing the critical importance of restoring and maintaining environmental quality to the overall welfare and development of man.”
There is a large body of literature, developed over the last 30 years by sociologists in the leisure/recreation field that describes the emotional and social benefits of what is called “serious leisure.” If you review some of the literature, you will find that:
Recreation research reveals that leisure activities can be rated according to quality, which is defined as an overarching quality-of-life benefit to the participant. Very high quality leisure activities, called “serious leisure” by researchers in the field, require a considerable number of complex factors which, in combination, provide satisfaction, personal growth, and fulfillment to the participant. (Stebbins, R.A. 1982, “Serious Leisure, A Conceptual Statement,” Pacific Sociological Review, 25, 251-272).
Since Stebbins’ early conceptual statement, the ideas around “serious leisure,” and the associated improvements in quality of life and health, has been extensively explored by the leisure academy, resulting in a large body of literature on the sociology of complex hobbies.
Another apt description of serious leisure activities is “…a social and emotional interactive process which deconstructs the social and historical biographical inequalities of lived experience to create with-equal other social human bond” (emphasis added). (Podichak W., 1991).
In reviewing the literature, it becomes quite clear that a number of essential qualities identify serious leisure:
• High levels of emotional commitment,
• complex planning and advance preparation,
• learning new skills,
• self-discipline to practice skills, with the goal of steadily improving performance
• operating within relationships with others (the social reference point),
• success in familiar and in unfamiliar social settings,
• Bonding experiences, with family members and companions (the with-equal other social human bond).
• problem-solving, ranging from very simple to highly complex and potentially life-saving,
• goal-oriented challenge, and a moderate degree of personal risk,
• pro-active interest in physical condition, particularly to overcome a disability,
• A sense of accomplishment when the adventure is completed.
Motorcycle trail riding falls directly into the most complex forms of “serious leisure.” Examples of some other forms of serious leisure that are pursued on BLM lands include all types of skiing, mountain bicycling, kayaking, and BASE jumping.
Therefore, there is a compelling case to be made for closely examining the perceived negative impacts, and correcting inaccuracies. There is an also compelling case to be made that the “err on the side of caution” policy, in matters of speculative negative impacts, is counterproductive to the BLM purpose and mission of offering quality recreation opportunities on BLM lands (particularly opportunities that are not available in any other setting—such as the Moab FO).
And finally, there is most definitely a case to be made in favor of reasonable trade-offs between the significant social benefits of motorized trail recreation and any measured negative resource impacts that may be noted after monitoring begins.
BLM may wish to deny that these qualities define motor recreation. That is clear evidence that BLM needs recreation specialists who know motor recreation, the same as BLM has recreation specialists for most other recreation activities pursued on BLM lands.