(Courtesy of Mario Mairena)
Congress Passes Omnibus Appropriations Bill and COVID Relief Bill
In late December, Congress passed HR 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The $2.3 trillion comprehensive package included $1.4 trillion for the 12 appropriations bills to fund the government through FY 2021 and $900 billion for COVID response and relief. A key provision included in the bill was a one-year extension of the 2-Wheeled Plug-In Electric Vehicle Credit which allows for a 10% tax credit on the purchase price on a new plug-in electric motorcycle up to a maximum of $2,500. The tax credit includes dual-use plug-in motorcycles that are licensed for on-road use, but also used off-road.
Although the $900 billion stimulus package is half the size of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law passed in March, the package contains additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Below are the Key PPP Funding Provisions:
- Allows tax-deductibility of forgiven PPP loans to both first-time qualified borrowers and to businesses that received a prior PPP loan.
- Allows companies to apply for another round of funding of PPP, up to $2 million, providing they:
- Have 300 or fewer employees;
- Have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP loan before disbursement of the new PPP loan; and
- Can demonstrate loss of at least 25% in any quarter in 2020 versus that same quarter in 2019.
- Allows 501(c)(6) organizations to get PPP funds as long as: ‘‘(aa) the organization does not receive more than 15 percent of its receipts from lobbying activities; ‘‘(bb) the lobbying activities of the organization do not comprise more than 15 percent of the total activities of the organization; ‘‘(cc) the cost of the lobbying activities of the organization did not exceed $1,000,000 during the most recent tax year of the organization that ended prior to February 15, 2020; and ‘‘(dd) the organization employs not more than 300 employees.
- Employee retention tax credit is extended into 2021.
- Extends a payroll tax subsidy for employers offering workers paid sick leave.
President-Elect Biden Nominates Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), a first-term congresswoman, has been nominated to be the next Secretary of the Interior. Rep. Haaland recently served as chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands and was on the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States. If confirmed, Rep. Haaland would make history as the first Indigenous person to serve as a Cabinet secretary.
BLM Seeks Public Comments on Proposed Action for the Moon Rocks Project
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Carson City District, Sierra Front Field Office is seeking public comment on the Proposed Action for the Moon Rocks Project. The purpose of the project is to facilitate improvements within the designated OHV Open area and main access roads by addressing immediate public health and safety-related concerns and to manage environmental impacts caused by an observed increase in visitation to the site. The Proposed Action would address public health and safety issues, increase regulatory oversight, provide adequate on-site security and safety of government agency personnel and property, and reduce impacts to natural resources.
Whether or not to construct recreational area improvements and manage the Open OHV area as a developed recreation site is the decision to be made. A decision to move forward with the Proposed Action would allow area improvements to enhance visitors’ experiences and mitigate environmental impacts in the area.
BLM welcomes the participation of the outdoor recreation community and encourages that comments be specific as possible. Comments are due by January 21, 2021.
Public comments can be submitted by mail to the BLM Carson City District, 5665 Morgan Mill Rd., Carson City, NV, 89701, attention Arthur Callan, or by email to email@example.com.
CA Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission Meeting
On Dec. 3, the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission held a virtual meeting. In attendance was Armando Quintero, CA State Parks Director, Sarah Miggins, Director of OHMVR, and all appointed commissioners. The Commission received reports from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S Forest Service. It provided updates on recreational opportunities through electric bikes, the 2020 soil conservation standard and guidelines, the grants and cooperative agreements program, the 2022 OHMVR program report, and the OHV Planning Program. The meeting’s highlight was the Public Comments on Oceano Dunes, as impassioned callers expressed their frustration. Some of the callers included Nick Harris, AMA, State Senator Mark Maynard (WV), and Don Amador (QWR). The comments centered on the Commissions’ inability to:
- Reopen Oceano Dunes, listen to the concerns and needs of the OHV community, and provide sound reasoning as to why this SVRA remains closed to the riding community when all the other SVRA’s are open.
- Refuse an outside agency dictate how to manage operations and reject the demonization of the OHV community.
- Provide clear and transparent communication and repair its broken and toxic relationship with the OHV community and public users.
- Respond to comments and questions from the rider community.
- Provide leadership, especially during the pandemic, and not invoke cost-cutting measures for salaries to staff when the park has been closed.
- Respond to emails and stand up for the people they are hired to serve and continued camping and OHV recreation.
- Recognize the vital role and the economic impact of $243M and 3,300 jobs on the local community.
States Continue to Increase Recreational Access
As states continue to reopen from COVID-19 restrictions, they increase recreational access to roads, trails, picnic areas, restrooms, and wilderness. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to work with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and use a phased approach to increase access on a case-by-case basis.
The following recreational area increased access in December:
- Boise, ID – The Bureau of Land Management Four Rivers Field Office announced the acquisition of 560 acres in the northwest Boise foothills to enhance public access to open space and recreation opportunities. The BLM purchased the land— known as the Healy Toll Road parcel—from the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley using money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The acquisition will secure public access in perpetuity to the parcel and open approximately 3,040 acres of adjacent BLM-managed public lands that previously lacked formal legal access.
BLM has lifted fire restrictions for the following areas:
- Ukiah, CA — The Bureau of Land Management eased fire restrictions for public lands managed by the Ukiah Field Office in Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties. Fire restrictions were originally initiated on Jun. 25 to curb the threat of wildfire.
- Bakersfield, CA — The Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield Field Office lifted fire restrictions on Dec. 7 for approximately 640,000 acres of BLM-managed public lands in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, and Tulare counties due to reduced wildland fire conditions. Fire restrictions were also lifted from BLM-managed recreational areas, including the Carrizo Plain National Monument, Chimney Peak, Kennedy Meadows, Keysville, Lake Isabella, San Joaquin River Gorge, and Three Rivers.
BLM closed the following areas:
- Craig, CO – Annual winter closures at the Bureau of Land Management’s Emerald Mountain Special Recreation Area outside Steamboat Springs went into effect Dec. 1 to reduce disturbance to wildlife. All areas south of the Ridge Trail, including Beall Trail and Kemry Draw, are closed to all forms of entry from Dec. 1 through Jun. 30 to protect elk during their sensitive winter and calving seasons.
- Twin Falls, ID – The Bureau of Land Management Shoshone Field Office has implemented annual seasonal motorized use restrictions in the Wood River Valley to protect wintering deer and elk. The seasonal restrictions are for BLM-managed land only and will lift on Apr. 30, 2021.
- Casper, WY – The Casper Field Office closed the Muddy Mountain Road for the winter season on Dec. 4 due to recent snow and continued possibilities for winter weather on the mountain. The annual closure protects public resources and promotes visitor safety.