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December 2008 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on December 1, 2008
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Photographers: Brian Williams for Brenda Priddy & Company

Mahindra Delays American Sales Of Pickup
Global Vehicles USA Inc., importer of the anticipated Mahindra pickup, has delayed the U.S. launch of the Mahindra midsize diesel pickup truck by six months to late 2009. Mahindra won't approve sales in the U.S. until a test fleet of 25 trucks complete 3.2-million miles of testing on American roads. The truck, which was originally thought to carry the Appalachian moniker, but will instead use an alphanumeric name and will be powered by a Hawk 2.2L I-4 turbodiesel backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is expected to make around 145 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque in U.S.-spec. Interested buyers can also expect a 2,600-pound payload in the 7.5-foot bed and 30 mpg with a comprehensive four-year/60,000-mile warranty. Looks promising to us!

Four Wheeler Joins Hummer And Tread Lightly!
Back in August, we joined a Volunteer Work Day on the Bald Mountain OHV Trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. About 50 volunteers worked together to build barriers and create a water diversion to reduce erosion on a section of the Bald Mountain OHV Trail. The volunteer day was part of a larger Bald Mountain project funded by Hummer. The Bald Mountain project entails the improvement and stabilization of an existing four-wheel-drive trail. A half-mile section of the trail receives heavy runoff during storms, leading to trail erosion. This section is located where stream bank restoration is also necessary. Several "cheater routes" will also be restored. Finally, a brochure and map of the trail will be created to guide the public along this restored designated route. Some great clubs and organizations are stepping up to the plate including: Clovis Independent Four Wheelers, Mountain Toppers Four Wheel Drive Club of Fresno, California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs Inc., California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs Safety and Education Foundation Inc., 4x4Him Christian Wheelers, Californians for Public Access Inc. (Cal Access), Northern California Land Rover, and Lock and Low Four Wheel Drive Club of Visalia.

No More FJ Cruiser?
Automotive News recently revealed Toyota's future product plans, which show the automaker moving away from enthusiast niche vehicles like the FJ Cruiser to instead focus on new fuel-efficiency standards. According to AN the FJ Cruiser will live out its product lifecycle and will not be replaced when the current generation expires in a couple more model years. The 4Runner, which was far along in development will carry on as a body-on-frame vehicle for at least one more generation and the Tacoma will have an eight-year lifecycle, not to be replaced until 2013.

Hummer Helps Red Cross
During September's National Preparedness Month, Hummer and the GM Foundation delivered 13 more Hummer H3 disaster response vehicles to American Red Cross chapters across the U.S. Red Cross chapters in Phoenix; Las Vegas; Detroit; Cincinnati; Rochester, NY; Boise, ID; Concord, NH; Greensboro and Raleigh, NC; Columbia, SC; Savannah, GA; Vancouver, WA; and Bristol, VA will receive vehicles to strengthen their emergency readiness and disaster response capability. Hummer's relationship with the Red Cross began in 2004, with a commitment to provide the organization with 72 vehicles that includes a combination of Hummer disaster response vehicles, as well as $100,000 each year from the GM Foundation. The Red Cross joins the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a coalition of more than 1,800 organizations in recognition of National Preparedness Month this September, a nationwide effort to raise public awareness about the importance of preparing for all types of emergencies.

Today there are 31 Hummer models in service with the Red Cross. These vehicles have been used in response to countless disasters, including areas hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; flooding in Orange County, New York; and wildfires in California. The vehicles also support each chapter's daily emergency response efforts and are used in local programs and services. All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting

Land Use Notes
Enthusiasts Disappointed Over Federal Decision To Keep Protected Plant On Endangered Species List

Nearly three years since the American Sand Association (ASA) first petitioned the Secretary of the Interior that the Peirson's Milk Vetch be removed from the Endangered Species List, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the plant warrants continued protection and will remain on the list of endangered species.

The battle encompassing the 49,300 acres of land temporarily closed to off-highway vehicles (OHVs) at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA), which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has inarguably been one of the highest profile cases involving U.S. public lands and the differing interests between off-road enthusiasts and environmental organizations. Environmentalists were able to get the plant listed under the Endangered Species Act without first conducting any scientific studies or providing data that the plant warranted protection in the first place. Off-road enthusiasts contend the plant was simply a tool used by environmental extremists to have the dunes temporarily closed, and off-roaders have spent millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours trying to prove the plant is flourishing in the dunes and does not qualify as a species that deserves federal protection.

Off-road recreationists who have been battling the environmental consortium in federal courts for several years believe the scientific data the FWS and BLM have collected over the last few years should have verified the PMV was doing well and did not require continued federal protection. The anti-access advocates and environmental extremists continue to use every avenue available to them to further their agenda to close public lands.

The Board of Directors with the ASA have chosen to work closely with the land management agencies, and support the method of gathering scientific data to make logical decisions whether public lands are closed for environmental protection or remain open for recreational access.

Many off-road enthusiasts are understandably outraged over the decision by the USFWS to keep the PMV on the Endangered Species List. They believe this is a politically-charged ruling, rather than a decision based on what is best for both the environment and the economic impact to both the private and public sectors. Off-road recreation is a hobby that has become a way of life for many generations of people living in the western United States, and losing valuable riding areas because of a blatant misuse of the Endangered Species Act is a sad situation that impacts many Americans, not just those who ride off-road vehicles.

The members of the American Sand Association urge fellow Americans, whether they're enthusiasts of off-road vehicles or other types of outdoor recreational activities, to take a hard look at the science behind this eight-year battle. The fact remains that the Peirson's Milk Vetch plant ranks as the most studied plant in the entire California desert! The studies conducted by Dr. Art Phillips, as well as the Bureau of Land Management, clearly conclude this plant is not deserving of a "Threatened" status by the USFWS. In 2006, a count of 1.8 million PMV plants were found at the ISDRA. In addition, notable data suggests that less than 0.5 percent of the plants are affected by off-road vehicles.

What many people do not realize is that nearly 26,202 acres of land situated within the ISDRA, north of Highway 78, have already been designated as a "Wilderness" area, closed to OHV use. This area, coupled with the current administration closures, make it nearly impossible for OHV activity to damage or threaten the PMV plant, which is shown to be thriving in the barren desert environment.

The American Sand Association stands fast to its resolution that the PMV is not deserving of a federally protected status. The plant has been the subject of many extensive and costly studies, and all the reports draw the same conclusion: The plant is very hardy but its numbers fluctuate according to rainfall; and there is no evidence that OHV use negatively affects the continued viability of the PMV. The ASA urges its members and other OHV enthusiasts to continue honoring the "temporary" closures that are currently set in place.

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