(Photo credit: Clif Koontz, Ride with Respect)
ARRA Urges Members to Submit Comments to Help Stop Shut-Down of Motorized Trails in Moab, UT
As a result of the Settlement Agreement in Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance et al. v. U.S. Department of Interior et al., the Travel Management Plan (TMP) of the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Special Recreation Management Area is now underway. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Moab Field Office opened the comment period on September 7th and closes on October 7th for the public to provide feedback on a draft travel management plan for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Travel Management Area. ARRA members took action and submitted their comments to the BLM Moab Field Office that supports Alternative A in the draft TMP for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area.
The TMP will decide the fate of some of Moab’s most famous motorized trails and could close as much as 40% of what is currently open to motorized use (including the Gold Bar Rim 4WD Trail and the Dead Cow motorcycle loop).
The environmental assessment for the travel management plan analyzes what types of vehicles can access which roads and explores seasonal restrictions within the travel management area. The travel management area encompasses 303,993 acres of public land in Grand County, Utah, and includes approximately 1,127 miles of motorized routes on BLM-managed public lands. The travel management plan is intended to analyze the utility and usefulness of existing routes, not limit access to the area. Routes are being analyzed for visitor needs, impacts on natural and cultural resources, and other values. For specific alternatives information and maps, visit the BLM’s ePlanning website.
“Public comments are an important part of land management, and by providing comments during a public comment period, you become an important partner in the effort to keep public lands open for responsible recreation,” said Danielle McNiven, Assistant Director, Tread Lightly!, Inc. Tread Lightly is one of many groups that guided to assist their members, partners, and the off-road community in ensuring their comments will be considered substantive. The groups submitting comments included: Ride with Respect, Trails Preservation Alliance, Colorado Off-Road Enterprise, and the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVC).
Governor Newsom Vetoes CA SB 894
Despite recognizing the economic benefits OHV competitions bring to rural communities, Governor Newsom vetoed CA SB 894 on September 25th. Introduced by Senator Brian Jones, the legislation would have provided 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.
Governor Newsom cited the fiscal impact of implementing the bill and the up-front costs the Department of Motor Vehicles would incur, given the number of competition vehicles expected to utilize the program.
Don Amador, Government Affairs Director for AMA District 36, states, “As a key stakeholder in the legislative process to create a Competition Sticker decal program over the last 2-3 years, I am disappointed that Governor Newsom vetoed SB 894. The lack of a registration program for the 2022 model year and newer competition motorcycles and ATVs is unfair to riders and powersports dealers who want to title their vehicles to obtain insurance and financing. It also will continue the confusion for land agencies and law enforcement that depend on vehicle identification to protect against trespass onto private property, intrusion into environmentally sensitive areas, and recovery of stolen motorcycles.”
“The bill would have continued the practice of riders supporting user fees to help maintain important trail management and conservation efforts in addition to requiring the use of sound level compliant spark arrestors to reduce excessive noise and aid in the prevention of wildfires,” Amador concludes.
Click here to read the Governor’s veto message.
Legacy Roads and Trails Fund Accepting Applications
American Trails has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to announce the National Forest System Legacy Roads and Trails Fund, which they call the Legacy Trails Grant Program. The program will award funds to stewardship organizations and local government entities completing motorized and non-motorized trail projects on National Forest System lands. $1.5 million is available to fund eligible projects through FY23 and FY24. The program is funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and supports partner trail projects that further the Legacy Roads and Trails criteria on National Forest System trails throughout the nine Forest Service Regions. This funding is not for routine annual trail maintenance, and projects must improve water quality, restore aquatic organism passages, preserve access, decommission National Forest System roads, unauthorized trails, or previously closed trails, or provide more resilient and sustainable National Forest System trails, trail bridges, and infrastructure. Any current nonprofit organization in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service or non-federal agencies may apply for this funding. Applicants are encouraged to work with their local Forest Service office to determine the type of agreement required to implement the proposed project. Projects are anticipated to be a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $100,000 per organization. The application portal will open in early October and close in early December, and applicants will be notified in February 2023. For additional information, contact Cathy Corlett (firstname.lastname@example.org), Trail Fund Director, American Trails.
Recent BLM Activity
- Medford, Oregon – As a result of increased fire activity, the Bureau of Land Management Grants Pass Field Office temporarily closed BLM-managed areas near the Rum Creek Fire for public and firefighter safety. Members of the public may not enter closed areas, and all uses—including hiking, hunting, and dispersed camping—are prohibited. The closure order encompasses a broad area west of Galice on both the south and north side of the Rogue River. Galice Road is closed north of Almeda boat ramp, as is Peavine Road. Please see the map for full closure information on the BLM website: https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire-and-aviation/regional-info/oregon-washington/fire-restrictions. The Galice Road is closed north of Almeda County Park to Grave Creek. The only access to Grave Creek Boat Ramp will be by Lower Rogue River permit holders and those accessing Grave Creek from Wolf Creek. The Lower Section of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River at Grave Creek is open to boaters with permits as conditions allow. Northwest Team posted on Facebook at 6 a.m. daily with the current river status at https://www.facebook.com/rumcreekfire2022.
- Winnemucca, Nevada – The Cherry Gulch Fire, located in the Pine Forest Range of the Winnemucca District has grown to 15,786 acres. The fire is 50% contained. The fire started in the Cherry Gulch near Mahogany Mountain on the north end of the Pine Forest Range (about 8 miles south of Denio, Nevada). The cause is still under investigation. Aircraft, heavy equipment, engines, and hand crews are on scene and fully engaged. Additional engines and crews have been ordered.
- Susanville, California – Motorcycle racers converged on the Bureau of Land Management’s Fort Sage Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in Lassen County for a night race from 9 p.m. to midnight, on Saturday, August 27th. Trails in the race course beginning and ending at the Raptor Trailhead were limited to competitors only. The event featured 40 riders to form into 20 teams for a relay-style race on a measured course. They completed as many laps as possible during the three-hour event, competing for fastest time. For safety reasons, there were no provisions for spectators along the course. Team supporters and spectators were only allowed in the pit area at the trailhead. The event organizers provided course marshals, and BLM law enforcement rangers were on hand to monitor the event. The event was sponsored by the Lassen Motorcycle Club under a special recreation permit issued by the BLM Eagle Lake Field Office in Susanville. The Fort Sage OHV Area offers about 100 miles of roads and trails for dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles, utility vehicles, and four-wheel-drive trucks. Detailed information can be found here: https://www.blm.gov/visit/fort-sage-highway-vehicle-area.
- Anchorage, Alaska – The BLM celebrated National Public Lands Day with a volunteer event at the Campbell Tract on Saturday, September 24th. BLM Campbell Creek Science Center and Anchorage Field Office staff were on hand at the event. Volunteer activities began at 9 a.m. through 1 p.m. The focus was on trail maintenance, steel post removal, and putting native plant gardens to bed for the winter. The BLM provided lunch as well as tools, gloves and all other needed equipment.
- Vale, Oregon – Volunteers who love their public lands were invited to celebrate National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 24th, with a cleanup day on the Lower Owyhee in Malheur County or at Spring Recreation Site in Huntington, Oregon. Friends of the Owyhee hosted the cleanup of the Lower Owyhee Canyon below the dam.