All posts by Peter

August 2014 eNews

  • UFWDA online magazine ‘Voice’ deadline,
  • Virginia 4WDA activities,
  • Olympic National Forest wants input,
  • NMOHVA Board Votes to Appeal Federal Court’s Decision,
  • Oppose the creation of the Boulder White Clouds National Monument,
  • King of the Hammers online video,
  • Even in Kathmandu,
  • BRC Brings New Suit To Restore Trail Access,
  • Public Lands for the People Octoberfest Fundraiser,
  • National & International Trails Awards,
  • Extension of Comment Period; Tonto NF,
  • Ochoco Summit OHV trails plans on hold for now.

    eNews Aug 14


Public meeting August 16 on Johnson Valley changes

From the Bureau of Land Management

Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management and the Marine Corps will host a Resource Management Group meeting about the changes in land use in the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area at the Lucerne Valley Community Center on August 16, 2014 from 1-3 PM.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the future locations of the Marine’s company objective areas within the Shared Use Area for military training in accordance with Military Land Withdrawals Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-66).

Input from State agencies, Off-Highway Vehicle and other recreation interest groups, and environmental advocacy groups as well as the public in general are encouraged and welcomed to attend.

The Lucerne Valley Community Center is located at 33187 Old Woman Springs Road, Lucerne Valley, CA. For additional information, contact the Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Manager, at 760-252-6004; email:; or the MCAGCC Public Affairs Office at 760-830-6213; email:

July 2014 eNews


  • UFWDA Awards,
  • UFWDA online magazine ‘Voice’ deadline,
  • Introducing a new UFWDA BoD member,
  • Arizona State Parks announces funding for motorized trail projects,
  • NMOHVA’s Day in Court,
  • NHTSA Will Not Regulate Tires Based on Age,
  • Another lesson when playing in water,
  • HR 1459 – Good for recreation,
  • Outdoorx4 offer 20% off,
  • The Tonto has issued its DEIS,
  • 10 Excuses Heard Off-Road,
  • A new UFWDA website feature,
  • Unsealed 4×4… an Australian magazine

UFWDA 2014 Four Wheeler of the Year

Jeff Bates – Past – President of the Grand Mesa Jeep Club (a member club of Colorado Four Wheel Drive Association and UFWDA) is the 2014 Four Wheeler of the Year.

Awarded annually by United Four Wheel Drive Associations Inc. (UFWDA), this award recognizes on an international level, the significant achievements and contribution of individuals to the sport of recreational four wheeling.

Because of Jeff Bates’ leadership and vision as President over the last 3 years, the Grand Mesa Jeep Club (GMJC) has prospered to unheard of levels. Jeff’s leadership has also shown in bringing the GMJC to the role of community leader regarding the Grand Junction Field Office (GJFO) of the BLM and their 2013 Resource Management Plan (RMP) and Travel Management Plan (TMP).

Jeff was given an award for his leadership by the BLM at a community awards meeting. Largely due to his leadership, the GMJC was responsible for generating over 800 individual comments on the BLM’s RMP/TMP.

With Jeff’s leadership, the BLM is working hard to establish more extreme trails in the Bangs Canyon area. He has also been able to get a commitment for a connector for the Tabeguache trail to Hwy 141. This ¼ mile connector has been in the works for nearly 30 years.

The club’s annual “Off Road Show and Swap Meet” and the three-day “Rock Junction” event held in conjunction with the “Off Road Show”, are outcomes of Jeff Bates vision.  Largely due to the growth of these two events, the membership of the Grand Mesa Jeep Club has more than tripled in the last two years. This growth in membership benefits all of us in the organized sport of 4-wheeling.

Jeff has been in the forefront of building interest in removing tons of trash and large items from the Grand Junction area and is very active in trail maintenance projects

UFWDA recognize dedication to managing our environment.

United Four Wheel Drive Associations Inc. (UFWDA) were delighted to award their 2014 Environmental Affairs Four Wheeler of the Year Award to Chris Brower of the Carolina Trail Blazers Club (a Southern Four Wheel Drive Association and UFWDA member club) to recognize on an international level, the significant achievements of individuals to recreational four wheeling.

About a year and a half ago, Chris recognized a need to become the liaison to the Uwharrie National Forest for the Carolina Trail Blazers Club. This position coordinates with the Forest Service and other 4×4 clubs to develop a schedule and work tasks for work days on the OHV system in the Forest. Chris has taken ownership of this position and has excelled past all expectations.

Before Chris took this position there was a small effort to coordinate the workdays by whoever was available that weekend. There was not an overall strategic plan with a set of defined objectives for the effort. Chris changed that. He has work crew supervisors to direct the work depending on the type of work to be done and has brought unparalleled organization and structure to the work days.

“Chris has been an incredible asset to the OHV trails on Uwharrie, and is willing to put the time in to make the volunteer program a real success. The Forest Service relies on volunteers to manage our trail systems and without those dedicated few who are willing to go the extra step, we would not be able to make the most of this program.” said Deborah Walker, District Ranger, Uwharrie National Forest.

Chris Brower (aka Snappy) has been a tremendous inspiration, volunteer, motivator, leader, worker, and cheerleader and shows passion that is contagious in our 4×4 community. If not for the efforts of Chris, we would have seen more closures of trails at Uwharrie, the last real place to ride in North Carolina!

BLM writing aggressive plan to save Gunnison sage grouse in Colo., Utah

Scott Streater, E&E reporter

Greenwire: Monday, June 16, 2014

The Bureau of Land Management is developing a sweeping plan to protect the Gunnison sage grouse in Colorado and Utah that involves amending land management plans in both states to install buffer zones around sensitive habitat, impose seasonal restrictions on oil and gas drilling and livestock grazing, and close roads and trails in occupied grouse habitat.

The plan builds on internal guidance issued last summer by BLM’s Colorado State Office instructing employees on how best to manage occupied habitat for the Gunnison sage grouse, which is found almost exclusively in southwest Colorado and southeast Utah. The Fish and Wildlife Service is under a court mandate to decide this fall whether to list it for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

But the new plan, which BLM outlined exclusively to Greenwire, significantly expands on that guidance by proposing to amend up to 11 resource management plans (RMPs) covering 800,000 acres of Gunnison sage grouse habitat in both states. Doing so would make it formal BLM policy to restrict development within a 4-mile buffer of Gunnison breeding grounds, called leks; limit recreational activities like bird watching and hunting during breeding season; and impose surface occupancy restrictions in occupied Gunnison habitat.

As part of the RMP amendment process, BLM will consider amending management plans to include provisions that “exclude new energy development and rights of way” on federal land in occupied Gunnison habitat and close off these lands to “fluid mineral leasing,” including oil, natural gas and geothermal projects, according to agency documents.

The objective is to take the same landscape-level approach to Gunnison that BLM is using to protect the greater sage grouse, which occupies a much larger range than the Gunnison grouse and is also under evaluation by Fish and Wildlife for a possible threatened or endangered listing.

BLM in the last year has formally proposed 15 regional greater sage grouse plans that call for amending dozens of RMPs covering the management of millions of acres of grouse habitat in 10 Western states.

“We are really trying to look at this now on a landscape scale,” said Leigh Espy, a BLM project manager overseeing the Gunnison sage grouse plan in Lakewood, Colo. “Not, as we would say, just the Gunnison basin, or just the Uncompahgre area, but rather the entirety of the bird’s range. We’re figuring out how to benefit the species on that level.”

BLM plans to formally launch the RMP amendment process for the Gunnison grouse later this month when the agency publishes a notice of intent in the Federal Register announcing that it will conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate the management plan amendments and kicking off a 30-day public scoping period, Espy said.

BLM is targeting completion of the EIS and implementation of the formal RMP amendments by June 2016, she said.

In the meantime, BLM today issued an instruction memorandum (IM) to agency field offices in Colorado and Utah directing them to follow the tenants of the proposed management plan.

The IM states that protecting Gunnison grouse habitat “is crucial for the conservation and protection of this species,” and it outlines a number of conservation measures that mirror the more aggressive steps taken in recent years to protect the greater sage grouse, whose habitat covers 11 Western states.

“Through this range-wide plan amendment process, BLM Colorado and Utah [field offices] should consider and evaluate [Gunnison] habitat conservation measures related to timing restrictions, buffer distances, percentages of allowable surface-disturbing activities, noise and desired density levels or other development constraints” that are consistent with peer-reviewed or other valid sage grouse research, according to the IM.

“At a minimum, [field offices] will analyze and implement conservation measures that prohibit or limit energy and discretionary mineral development within four miles of active leks, and minimize surface disturbance and disruptive activities in all occupied habitat, where appropriate,” the IM states.

The RMP amendments that are the centerpiece of BLM’s habitat conservation plan will not be finalized until well after Fish and Wildlife issues a final decision whether to list the Gunnison grouse this fall.

But BLM says that it hopes moving on the conservation plan and issuing the new IM to field office staff will demonstrate to Fish and Wildlife that fundamental steps are being implemented to protect the Gunnison sage grouse. And if FWS decides to list the bird this fall, BLM will at least have started its new plan, said Steven Hall, an agency spokesman in Lakewood.

“This will be the policy of the BLM,” Hall said.

Growing concern

BLM’s Gunnison sage grouse plan comes just weeks after a federal judge approved a request by Fish and Wildlife to push back by six months the deadline to decide whether to list the bird — to Nov. 12 from May 12 (Greenwire, May 6).

FWS first proposed listing the Gunnison sage grouse as endangered in January 2013.

Fish and Wildlife was originally required to make a final listing decision on the ground-dwelling bird by May 12 under the terms of a 2011 settlement agreement with WildEarth Guardians stemming from a backlog of species awaiting final listing decisions.

WildEarth Guardians did not oppose the extension request because, the group says, the Interior Department committed to some extensive new mitigation measures, including updating RMPs across the Gunnison sage grouse’s range in Colorado and Utah to include conservation measures.

The legal settlements, the deadline this fall to determine the status of the Gunnison sage grouse and a September 2015 deadline for the greater sage grouse have been heavily criticized by Western lawmakers and the oil and gas industry.

The latest Gunnison grouse proposal is almost certain to spark renewed criticism, especially from Western governors and congressional leaders who in recent weeks have been pushing the Obama administration to defer to the states or to delay by years making a final ruling on the bird.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) filed a bill last month that would delay by as long as 10 years listing both the Gunnison sage grouse and the greater sage grouse, while giving states the lead in conserving the birds’ habitat (Greenwire, May 22).

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urged Western governors during last week’s Western Governors’ Association (WGA) annual meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo., to oppose the bill, saying it wouldn’t help the bird (Greenwire, June 10).

The WGA last week adopted a resolution calling on the federal government to give maximum deference to state conservation efforts and to prioritize funding to avoid new ESA listings.

The resolution referenced only the greater sage grouse, and it did not explicitly endorse delaying Fish and Wildlife’s listing deadline. But it did support legislation or legal or regulatory steps that would allow federal, state and local conservation efforts “adequate time” to be rolled out and be proved effective (E&ENews PM, June 11).

The WGA resolution said state and multistate conservation plans for candidate species such as sage grouse — upon review and endorsement by Fish and Wildlife or the National Marine Fisheries Service — should lead to “regulatory presumption” that an ESA listing is not needed.

The agencies should give “full recognition to voluntary conservation efforts conducted by landowners, states, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders,” the resolution said.

Ongoing conservation efforts

BLM has been working with Colorado as far back as 2005, when they partnered to establish the Gunnison Sage-grouse Rangewide Conservation Plan aimed at preserving the bird and its sagebrush steppe habitat.

Colorado has done a significant amount of conservation work on Gunnison habitat protection, including enrolling private landowners in formal agreements to take steps to protect or restore habitat on their properties in exchange for assurances that they will not be subjected to more regulations should the bird ever be federally listed.

State and county officials also have worked with land trusts to purchase tens of thousands of acres of conservation easements and adopt county land-use restrictions.

Colorado has also worked closely with the oil and gas industry in the state.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) last year agreed to expand the acreage in formally designated sensitive wildlife habitat areas that require the oil and gas industry to consult with state wildlife officials and avoid impacts before drilling wells. That included adding more than 400,000 acres to Gunnison sage grouse sensitive wildlife habitat, for a total of more than 1 million acres (EnergyWire, Sept. 18, 2013).

While there is currently very little oil and gas development on federal lands in southwest Colorado, there certainly could be in the future, said David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association in Grand Junction, Colo.

Any policy decision to restrict development there would be shortsighted, Ludlam said, noting that advancements in directional-drilling techniques have made it safer to drill near sensitive wildlife habitat.

“We’ll be watching these RMP revisions and hoping that the agency isn’t going to be making reactionary, arbitrary policy decisions,” he said. “We hope they’ll be steeped in science and maintain the flexibility for commercial infrastructure that’s in harmony with protections for the grouse. We think you can do both.”



June 2014 eNews

  • UFWDA 2014 AGM Webinar This Month,
  •  Four Wheeling loses an Icon,
  •  Outdoorx4 offer 20% off,
  •  UFWDA online magazine ‘Voice’,
  • Great Outdoors Month in The USA,
  • Finally, new trails for motorized recreation,
  • 29 Road Desert Clean-Up,
  • 4WD: Where the wild things are,
  •  State’s first four-by-four course taking shape,
  • 2014 Earth Day Trail Cleanup,
  • 4×4 Treks Galloway.
  • eNews-June-14

Travel Management Agreement Reached on Stanislaus National Forest

Sonora, CA… A settlement agreement on the 2010 litigation of the 2009 Stanislaus National Forest (NF) Motorized Travel Management decision was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California today and is effective immediately. The U.S. Forest Service and the plaintiffs to the litigation (The Wilderness Society; Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility; and the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center) reached an agreement that balances the plaintiffs’ concerns while retaining the majority of motorized Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) routes made in the 2009 decision for recreational use…

The agreement does involve temporary route closures, but these closures do not affect the existing road system. Trail closures affect about 14 percent of the OHV trail system.

“Diverse riding and driving opportunities for motorized recreation and dispersed camping still abound on the forest with over 230 miles of OHV trails available,” said Susan Skalski, Forest Supervisor, Stanislaus NF.

As part of the settlement agreement, for an interim period of time until other analysis is completed, the Forest will close to motorized use 40.34 miles of routes (86 OHV trail segments) on three ranger districts: the Calaveras, Mi-Wok and Groveland. 18.19 miles of routes (49 OHV trail segments) currently open will be closed effective May 23. Twenty-two and a quarter miles of routes (37 trail routes) that are not currently open because mitigations required in the Forest Supervisor’s 2009 Record of Decision are not complete, will remain closed.

“Enforcement during the initial closure and implementation period will focus on facilitating change through advising visitors and providing information to public land users,” said Heidi Rieck, Law Enforcement Patrol Captain, Stanislaus NF. “We understand it takes time for people to become familiar with changes. After the initial educational period, we will start to incorporate other enforcement actions.”

Officers do have and will apply enforcement discretion in issuing citations to forest users.

In order to address the court’s concerns, during the closure, the Forest will take steps to show how it is applying the Forest Service’s 2005 Travel Rule minimization criteria to the 2009 Decision. When making decisions to designate routes for public motorized use, the 2005 Travel Rule requires the Forest to consider the effects on Forest resources with the objective of minimizing damage. It has not been determined how long this analysis may take or how long the routes will be closed. A new Motor Vehicle Use Map has been published and can be obtained at any Stanislaus NF district office or the Forest Supervisor’s Office.

The Stanislaus National Forest (STF) is actively engaged in management of its transportation system. The objectives of transportation planning are to: provide access to recreation facilities and opportunities for the public and partners; access for resource management, including fire protection and suppression; and to maintain an affordable/manageable transportation system while meeting the management needs of the Forest. The Forest is guided by the Travel Management Rule (36 CFR Part 212) and the Forest Service Manuals and Handbooks (7700).

Information regarding litigation of the 2009 Motorized Travel Management decision, the decision and the settlement agreement with the list of trails will be posted on the Stanislaus NF website by May 31.

For more information about this news release or to speak with a Visitor Information Specialist about forest information and recreation opportunities, call the Stanislaus Supervisor’s Office at: 209-532-3671; Calaveras Ranger District (RD) at 209-795-1381; Groveland RD at 209-962-7825; Mi-Wok RD at 209-586-3234; or Summit RD at 209-965-3434.


May 2014 eNews

  • UFWDA 2014 AGM Webinar
  • Federal judge rules against fees at national forests
  • Rock Junction and Off Road Show – 2014
  • Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame
  • Southern Four Wheel Drive Association Gaining Momentum
  • EPA Releases Interactive Mapping Tool
  • Cal4Wheel… Clear Creek Bill
  • Pace Lake Pre-run 2014
  • Collector Car Appreciation Day