Snow and then some
Our friends at the American Council of Snowmobile Associations are happy, but the rest of us living in the Mid Atlantic states have seen more than enough snow for the winter of 2016. A snowstorm 900 miles in length and 36 hours in duration showed once again how we aren’t always in control.
At least kids sledding down Capitol Hill were happy. And to think it took an Act of Congress to even authorize this form of recreational activity!
Utah Public Lands Initiative
We have referenced in previous newsletters the effort underway in Utah to reach a consensus on how public lands should be managed in that state. The effort led by Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz has finally gotten to the stage that a draft bill has been released so that all can see the recommendations that were a result of a very exhaustive collaborative process on the part of all types of stakeholders in the state.
First, a comment about the process: The effort took three years of intensive work and more than 1,200 meetings. A serious effort was made to seek input from all interested parties at the local, county and state level. Not everybody got everything they wanted from this collaborative process, but few could say that they weren’t given an opportunity to participate and put their demands on the table. Second, this was an effort to rely on the wisdom of those living in the affected state rather than making the assumption that Washington always knows best. And third, even the Washington equation is not left out because the initiative requires congressional and executive approval in order to become finalized.
The draft legislation among other things specifically creates what are called “recreation zones” where hiking, mountain biking, motorcycle riding, off-highway vehicle use, and camping are permitted while limiting some of these activities in other areas. It will also congressionally designate a National Monument area and will expand the Arches National Park by more than 19,000 acres. It will designate more than 300 miles of rivers as wild and scenic, among a host of other things. What is important to note is that this is not some haphazard attempt to separately deal with one type of land use at a time, but rather, an attempt to look at all the pieces of the puzzle comprehensively before finalizing anything.
It is fair to say that there is opposition to some of these recommendations both at the state level and from some national groups. In other words, the legislative process required to complete this process is likely to be a lengthy one. However, this approach is far preferable to presidential declarations or management plans from a federal agency. Should you care to learn more about this effort, I would recommend you go to this website: www.UtahPLI.com.
And if you agree, as we do, that this effort is precedent setting in terms of a massive collaborative process and far preferable to presidential designations from Washington, please go to one of our latest action alerts urging the President and Interior Secretary Jewell to get on board in supporting the Utah Public Lands Initiative. If you are so inclined, please click here.
In the meantime, congratulations to Reps. Bishop and Chaffetz and their staffs for undertaking what many would think is an impossible and thankless job. We happen to think they are shaping public policy for the management of public lands in the right way. We hope that other states will follow suit.
NOHVCC and BLM Workshops
The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conversation Council (NOHVCC) in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will be holding a series of workshops in New Mexico during February in an effort to seek public input on how BLM can provide the public with high quality OHV recreation opportunities. This series of workshops follows a similar effort in the State of Montana that proved to be very successful. Workshops will be held in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Roswell, Hernandez and Farmington. Please check the NOHVCC website for the actual dates and locations: www.nohvcc.org.
New Website Design
We hope you have visited the ARRA website in the past month and noticed it has been redesigned. The new website has been formatted to better fit mobile phone and tablet screens, and to make it easier to take action on alerts from a mobile device. We hope you like what you see and that you find it easier to use.
Larry E. Smith
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA)