CORVA’s Amy Granat recently went to Washington DC to testify before the Congressional Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. Her goal was to point out problems in National Forests with travel management. She spoke about northern California’s Inyo National Forest and how they answered a National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey saying there was almost no OHV activity in the Forest. Then Amy pointed out that the Forest, in their state grant application, said that 22% of Inyo forest users were there for OHV use. She talked about how the Travel Management route closures made fire suppression more difficult without as much access. She spoke about how disabled people were left out of areas they wished to see. She talked about economic and recreational consequences of road closures. I believe there is a good chance that there will be changes in the forests in the not too distant future.
Also on the federal side, the Endangered Species Act is being reviewed and several bills have been introduced to make the act work better. A principle component of these bills is to allow for more local involvement in the implementation of management plans for listed species. This means that counties and states would have greater say in how these plans are formulated. This could only benefit recreation land users, as the federal decision makes don’t take local use into consideration as much as it is felt they should. Given the current political makeup of Congress, Senate and the Presidency, changes in favor of recreation to the Forest Service and the ESA are very possible.
Congressman Cook’s bill (HR 857) to make six OHV areas into National Recreation Areas passed unanimously in the House of Representatives.
On the fun side of SDORC activities, we have created a Meetup group for SDORC (https://www.meetup.com/SanDiegoOffRoadCoalitionSDORC/). We’ve done some desert night rides and have met at breweries to share some time together. Desiree has been helping coordinate on the digital side, while I’ve been leading rides and talking about issues and it’s been good fun. At the brewery, a gentleman asked how someone could help our cause. First, I said, come to meetings. Then I mentioned that I would love to have people specialize in OHV areas that they could not only frequently visit, but get to know the agency staff that manage the areas. We need help with events, like our fast-approaching Lost Lizard Fun Run. We still need help with checkpoints (which is really fun to do) and help at base camp. If you want to get more involved, email us at email@example.com.
I’d like to share with you something I have learned along the way that I should have been taught in school, but wasn’t. There are four levels of government, city, county, state and federal. We all have elected representatives for each level (unless you don’t live in a city). If you have a problem with a government agency, the way to solve it is by asking for help from your elected representative from that level of government. Say I have a problem with the local BLM office. The BLM is federal, so I would talk to my congressman (or their staff). Have a problem with State Parks? Talk to your state assembly member or state senator. A friend of mine was stuck dealing with a county agency. Really stuck. I suggested he contact his county supervisor and ask for help. He called, they helped him and I got a free dinner out of it. Have a pothole in front of your house and you live in a city? Call your city council representative. This is what our elected representatives are for and they love to solve problems with agencies at their level. The agencies were created by votes from our elected representatives, so the agencies fear them more than anyone else.