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  • excitebike02

Posted August 04, 2002 - 02:11 PM


Please join Blue Ribbion Coalition ( ) , , or another group that fights to keep our riding areas open. Roy Denner is a big voice for supporting us and our recreation oppurtunites. Please post this report from the June DAC on other boards and send to other people.


Roy Denner, Recreation Representative

The California Desert District Advisory Council (DAC) is aboard of 15 individuals who have interests in the California desert. This Council, appointed by the U.S.Secretary of the Interior, established under Federal
law, is supposed to advise the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the management of the 10 million acre California desert district.

At a DAC meeting held in El Centro during December, 2001several significant recommendations were made by the DAC, to the BLM, on a vote of 10 in favor to
2 opposed. Those recommendations were as follows:

In the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Management Plan, the Northern Eastern Colorado Management Plan (NECO), and the Northern Mojave Management Plan (NEMO), the BLM should include a provision to mitigate impacts on land users just like it mitigates impacts on the environment. For example, if an area needs to be closed to public use because of significant impacts on an endangered species, another area should be opened or expanded to compensate for the closure.

Because of the lack of recent scientific studies of the status of the Desert
Tortoise - the species that is driving the decisions included in the new plans - implementation of the NECO & NEMO plans should be delayed until new studies can be completed. BLM biologist reporting at the meeting admitted that no good scientific data exists to support BLM planning actions, which consist solely of closures of public lands to public use. Similarly,cattle grazing restrictions should not be implemented until further studies of the Desert Tortoise are complete. OHV areas recommended for closure in the NECO Plan, with no evidence of OHV impact on species, should remain open.

A recent DAC meeting was held in Barstow on June 28th& 29th, 2002. At that meeting, it was reported that none of the DAC recommendations will be implemented. No sound scientific evidence or rational analysis was provided to support these decisions.

When the person responsible for drafting the NECO Plan was confronted with “You must have overwhelming evidence of OHV impacts in the OHV areas you are closing to ignore the DAC’s recommendation with a vote of 10 to 2- Is that true?” The answer was “no”. The BLM has done no environmental studies in
those areas.

It was reported by the BLM that the new Coachella Valley Plan, currently being developed, treats 31 species, THAT ARE NOT ON ANYENDANGERED SPECIES LIST, as if they were already listed since “they might someday be threatened or endangered.” In the entire 1.2 million acre Coachella Valley (the Palm Springs corridor along Fwy. 10) there is not a single place that a kid can
ride his/her dirt bike legally after school. All OHV areas have been closed!
(6,2002 DAC report,pg. 2)

The current effort to designate driveable trails in several planning areas was discussed. Instead of providing valid evidence that certain trails must be closed due to evidence of environmental impacts on those trails, the BLM is taking the approach of closing all dirt roads and trails to vehicle use unless the users have identified them as trails that need to remain open -
and they are closing someof those if alternate routes are available! Many
members of the DAC expressed concern about the proliferating trail closures
since access for all public land users is being denied. Included among the
dissenters were representatives from the cattle industry, the mining industry, the filming industry, County Boards of Supervisors, the OHV communities, and even the wildlife protection community.

The question of money was raised. None of the plans address the cost to implement their recommendations. The Desert DistrictManager indicated that she has used up this year’s budget already and there are several more months to go in this fiscal year. To implement all of the new management plans and monitor the result would take several times the staff currently available - and no increased budget is anticipated - if anything, BLM appropriated funds are being cutback. So the end result of attempting to implement these unrealistic plans will be that implementation schedules will not be met and the environmentalist groups will sue the BLM once again for failing to implement plans.

Does any of this matter to the California Desert District BLM? The answer is a resounding “NO!" Not one single element of any of the new Desert Management Plans addresses even maintaining status quo for public land users. Certainly, there is no mention of expanding public use opportunities. Instead, a single solution policy is being applied across the board that can only be described as “Management by Closure!”

The unfortunate result of this management by closure philosophy, that ignores input from a majority of desert interest groups, is that more and more litigation will follow. These interest groups are banding together, with California businesses that are being impacted by continuous management by
closure, to halt this unfair and illegal process. Litigation by enviro-extremist groups has been so effective in directing BLM policies that other interests are left with no alternative.

A “last hope” proposal was offered to the BLM at the meeting to avoid expanding litigation costs. It was proposed by recreation representative Denner that, if the BLM can get the environmental groups that sued the desert district to put up some money, the other interest groups will match that amount. The money would be used to perform a serious scientific study of the California Desert Tortoise. Law suits would stop, the Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan would be updated, and plans would incorporate the results of the study. If the environmental groups are serious about saving the tortoise, they should jump at this offer. We’ll see!

Roy Denner

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