MDR California 200 Memorial Dedicated
The MDR California 200 Memorial has been permanently located at the Slash-X Ranch Café at 28040 Barstow Road (Hwy 247) in Stoddard Valley, 8 miles south of Barstow, California, for all to visit for years to come. The dedication on Saturday, August 13, 2011, one day less than a year after the accident that changed so many lives in the off-highway community, was built around the true spirit of life. The whole concept is meaningful: a figure “8” with the Ribbon Memorial sitting at the very top. Eight trees dedicated to those lost surround it, with 22 lights going up the walkway and 22 shrubs planted to represent the injured. Slash-X Ranch Café owner Brian Lynn graciously offered a piece of property to put this memorial. In a most unfortunate turn of events, Lynn was killed in an auto accident three days before the dedication. The Lynn family was added to the prayers of all at the event. The complete dedication can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYERHZXm8zo.
House Panel Considers the Benefits of OHV Recreation
A House Natural Resources Subcommittee recently held a hearing called “Opportunities for Outdoor Recreation on Public Lands.” The main topics of discussion were protecting recreational access to federal lands and recognizing the economic benefits derived from such activities. Witnesses included representatives from the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition and other OHV organizations. The hearing included testimony in support of multiple-use federal lands and responsible OHV recreation. Don Amador, Western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, spoke on the need to reopen the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) in California. Currently closed due to an “emergency closure” in 2008, the CCMA contains more than 75,000 acres of land containing off-road trails. Amador testified that the decision was based on inaccurate data and false assumptions and that the land should be designated as a National Recreation Area with prescribed OHV uses. SEMA promotes the responsible use of federal lands for recreation and continues to oppose land use policies that are unnecessarily restrictive. “Wilderness designations” are of particular concern since no motorized activity is permitted on such land. In 2009, lawmakers passed 160 separate measures as one omnibus bill, thereby designating 2.2 million acres of new wilderness in nine states. Lawmakers are now discussing the possibility of designating millions more acres in the same fashion.
Recent Land Use Decisions a Mixed Bag for SEMA Members
The U.S. Department of the Interior has withdrawn its controversial “wild lands” policy, which directed lands with potential wilderness qualities to be managed as wilderness. SEMA joined with a number of other organizations to oppose the program, implemented last December by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), since it usurps the exclusive authority of Congress to designate “wilderness.” The designation is consequential to SEMA members that produce equipment intended for off-road activities and their customers since no motorized activities are allowed on “wilderness” lands. The BLM manages more than 250 million acres across the western United States and Alaska, 22-percent of which already have the wilderness designation. Under the wild lands program, the BLM was directed to review its inventory in search of more wild lands. Program opponents noted that it did not take into account input from local communities and elected officials on how the lands should be managed, such as permitting multiple uses that provide jobs and economic benefits. The controversial program was being challenged in Congress and in the courts.
In a separate action, the BLM closed 37 miles of roads and trails in southwest Idaho to protect a rare plant—the Packard’s milkvetch. Last November, the plant was listed as a candidate for Endangered Species Act protection and off-highway vehicles were identified as a threat. The plant is known to grow in a small area of Payette County. The BLM closure of 37 miles of OHV recreation around Willow Creek will last at least two years as the issue is reviewed. While supporting the need to protect endangered plants and animals, SEMA has called on Congress to update the Endangered Species Act to allow the government to pursue recovery habitats rather than simply close huge tracts of land.
A federal judge has rejected Utah’s lawsuit claiming state rights to a 10.5-mile road in Canyonlands National Park. The National Park Service closed the road in 1998, blocking motorized access to Angel Arch. The state of Utah and San Juan County had argued that the dried-up Salt Creek Canyon riverbed had a history of continuous use by vehicles, homesteaders and cattle herders, which provided a right of way to the national park. Widely considered the most spectacular arch in the park, visitors must now walk about 12 miles to reach Angel Arch.