Over $750M Awarded Through the American Rescue Plan Funding
In 2021, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable wrote a letter to Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce, to ensure the prioritization and funding for outdoor recreation as part of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) American Rescue Plan funding. This effort was rewarded when EDA announced $750 million in funding for Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation projects, helping grow the recreation economy nationwide. $510 million of this funding was distributed through state block grants, and $240 million was distributed as competitive grants. While the state block grants are still being allocated and analyzed, EDA has published all project awards for its competitive grants. Of the $240 million, EDA allocated more than $111 million for recreation infrastructure projects, with an additional $39.6 million allocated in local investment to support such projects.
These recreation projects generate wide-ranging positive impacts across the United States, including rural economic development, new recreation infrastructure, public health, and equitable access for all communities. Total funding and local impacts of the recreation-specific projects include:
- $111,041,829 in direct EDA dollars +$39,565,781 in local investment, for a total of $150,607,610 in recreational funding
- $640,393,500 in private funding leveraged (estimate)
- 3295 jobs created (estimate)
- 1457 jobs saved (estimate)
- 34 states
Western Members of Congress Renew Request for Details on 30 x 30 Initiative
On October 5, 2022, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and Senate Western Caucus Chairman Steve Daines (MT) sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland renewing their request for details on the Biden Administration’s “30 by 30” initiative, or “America the Beautiful.” The letter was sent on the first anniversary of the Congressional and Senate Western Caucuses releasing their alternative proposal, the Western Conservation Principles, which outlines conservation policy proposals and practices with measurable environmental benefits utilized throughout rural America. Additionally, the Chairmen requested a briefing in October with Senate and Congressional Western Caucus member offices and urged the administration to re-focus their initiative with the Western Conservation Principles in mind.
“As we have warned in the past, the lack of information and transparency leads many Westerners to fear the ‘America the Beautiful’ initiative is, at best, a thoughtless approach to conservation, and at worst, a top-down land-grab,” wrote the Chairmen.
“Conservation is part of our Montana way of life—we know how to be good stewards of our lands,” Senator Steve Daines, Chair of the Senate Western Caucus, said. “I believe it’s a conservative principle to conserve. That’s why I’m pushing a new ‘Western Conservation Principles’ initiative that uses science-based, time-tested, locally-driven practices to bring about meaningful conservation outcomes, unlike President Biden’s vague 30×30 initiative.”
The areas outlined in the Western Conservation Principles included: forest health, invasive species, wild horses and burros, superfund sites, visitation, abandoned mine and orphan well reclamation, checkerboard and landlocked management, biodiversity and species recovery, and promoting and protecting water infrastructure. The principles describe utilizing a full range of tools to achieve the desired outcomes. Those tools include: shared stewardship, leveraging public-private partnerships, reporting and monitoring, streamlining processes, litigation reform, and auditing existing programs.
The Biden Administration has yet to provide concrete details or a briefing on the “30 by 30” or “America the Beautiful” initiative to the Congressional or Senate Western Caucuses.
California State Parks Implements New Whip Requirements
Following a couple of OHV fatal crashes, California State Parks has implemented mandatory whip and flags on all side-by-sides at the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area and Ocotillo Wells SVRA. A whip is any pole, rod, or antenna securely mounted on the vehicle that extends at least eight feet from the ground’s surface and must stand upright when the vehicle is stopped.
The requirement calls for the following:
- Whips must extend at least 8 feet high from the surface of the ground when mounted on the side-by-side;
- Whips shall have an attached flag that is a minimum of six inches by 12 inches and is attached to the top 10 inches of the whip;
- When the vehicle is stopped, the whip shall be capable of standing upright while supporting the weight of the flag.
Recent BLM Activity
- Tucson, Arizona – The Bureau of Land Management Tucson Field Office is starting an access and transportation management planning process that will designate roads and trails on BLM lands in the Middle Gila South travel management planning area. The resulting travel management plan will identify the transportation system that will be maintained for multiple land use activities, public land infrastructure, hunting, and other recreational opportunities. These public lands provide outstanding opportunities for hunting deer, javelina, quail, and other species, off-highway vehicle driving, mountain biking, equestrian riding, sightseeing, camping, and other recreational activities in iconic scenic Sonoran Desert National Monument mountain and canyon landscapes. The BLM conducted virtual Zoom meetings on October 19-20 to provide information about the project and how to participate in the planning process. The public was invited to provide input on access needs, issues, and concerns from October 1 until November 17, 2022. An environmental assessment for the proposed access and transportation management plan will be prepared in accordance with the NEPA, and opportunities for public review and comment will be available at milestone stages throughout the process. Completion of the access and transportation management plan and environmental assessment is expected in July 2023.
- Las Vegas, Nevada – The BLM Las Vegas Field Office is proposing to amend the 1998 Las Vegas Resource Management Plan to designate Logandale Trails as a Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA). The BLM has drafted an associated Environmental Assessment, Recreation Area Management Plan, and Travel Management Plan for public review. The public will be able to review the documents and supporting information during a 45-day comment period from September 28, 2022 through November 14, 2022. The proposed Logandale Trails SRMA, is located approximately 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, and west of the communities of Logandale and Overton, Nevada. The proposed Logandale Trails SRMA would include approximately 15,300 acres of BLM managed lands. The BLM has revised the previous acreage from 15,019 acres to 15,300 acres due to an error in calculations found in the GIS data while the draft EA and planning documents were being drafted. More information on the project can be found at: https://www.virtualpublicmeeting.com/logandale-trails-ea
- Phoenix, Arizona – The Bureau of Land Management’s Hassayampa Field Office will temporarily close some public lands in Maricopa County for the upcoming Vulture Mine Off-Road Challenge off-highway vehicle races. The closure will occur Friday, November 4 through Sunday, November 6, 2022. Public safety is a top priority for the BLM, and the temporary closure for the Vulture Mine Off-Road Challenge provides for the safety of the public and race participants. All public lands located on the interior of the racecourse, as well as the course itself, will be temporarily closed to public entry, unless specifically excepted. Maps and information regarding the designated racecourse and impacted closure area are available at the Hassayampa Field Office located at 2020 E. Bell Road in Phoenix.
- Ukiah, California – On October 15th, the BLM and partners from the off-highway vehicle (OHV) community held a free South Cow Mountain OHV Safety Event for the public at the South Cow Mountain OHV Management Are to promote safe and responsible recreation. “OHV recreation can be an exhilarating and exciting experience for novice and seasoned enthusiasts alike,” said Ukiah Field Manager Nick Lavrov. “Critical to the sport, we ask the public to make safety a priority and recreate responsibly to preserve the amazing landscapes and create the best rides for now and future generations in the years to come.”
- Fairbanks, Alaska – Due to the lack of adequate snow cover in the White Mountains National Recreation Area and Steese National Conservation Area, the summer off-highway vehicle (OHV) limitations remained closed until October 31st. “We ask for the public’s patience and understanding as we transition to winter,” said Tim Hammond, Eastern Interior Field Office manager. “Snow cover is not expected to reach the target depth of 6 inches prior to the established October 15 summer-to-winter transition date. By extending the summer OHV limitations, we aim to allow the continued use of wheeled vehicles that are prohibited under the winter OHV limitations.”
- Vale, Oregon – On October 7, 2022, the Vale District Bureau of Land Management lifted fire restrictions on all BLM protected lands, including Bureau of Reclamation lands. Fireworks, exploding targets, and incendiary and tracer ammunition are still prohibited on all BLM public lands in Oregon and Washington.
- Redding, California – The BLM has eased some fire restrictions on public lands managed by its Arcata and Redding field offices in Humboldt, Mendocino, Del Norte, Trinity, Shasta, Butte, Tehama and Siskiyou counties. The terminated fire prevention orders can be found here and here. Easing of fire restrictions means that campfires are again allowed. Campfire permits are required outside of developed campgrounds. They are available free online at https://www.readyforwildfire.org/permits/campfire-permit/ and at BLM, Forest Service and CAL FIRE offices.