Carla Boucher has today filed this quick report from Washington DC. It will be a couple of days yet before a summary of the whole visit will be available.
Notes from Day 1, Washington D.C. For Four Wheelers
Today was spent developing strategy with other national recreation representatives from the American Motorcyclist Association, NOHVCC (National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council), ARRA (Americans for Responsible Recreational Access), MIC (Motorcycle Industry Council), SVIA (Specialty Vehicle Institute of America), American Council of Snowmobile Associations, SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), TreadLightly!, and the Recreational Off Highway Vehicle Association.
MIC and NOHVCC have been working to the benefit of all the motorized recreation community in connection with the Western Governors Association to fund a 50-state economic impact study for motorized recreation use. The groundbreaking nature of this study is the consistency in data information gathering from state to state. Once the data is gathered it will be reported out of the Western Governors Association in reports presented by the subcommittee on which MIC and NOHVCC sit along with, among others, the Outdoor Industry Association. Details about the work by the Western Governors Association will occur in the coming months.
Much of the day was spent preparing for meetings tomorrow. The first meeting tomorrow is with Mr. Tony Tooke (Director of Ecosystem Management Coordination) and Mr. Jim Bedwell (Director of Recreation and Heritage Resources), US Forest Service. We will have an opportunity to discuss current issues facing OHV recreation based on the new final Planning Rule. Based on my review of the final rule some troubling aspects remain. Several questions remain about how planning will actually occur in the practical sense. Which forest will be first to plan under the new process? Will they utilize “assessments” dating back in time prior to the development of the new planning process? How will the public actually participate in the planning process and how will our participation be hampered by the use of assessments we knew nothing about at the time they were developed, possibly by non-government bodies such as the Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and other non-access organizations? Mr. Bedwell has always been very gracious in directly answering our questions and I anticipate that tomorrow’s meeting with him will be very insightful.
We will then continue our meeting with Mr. Jim Bedwell and Mr. Bob Ratcliffe (Division Chief, National Recreation Office, Bureau of Land Management) to discuss, among other things, the next steps in the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) program that just released its final report and its 50-state report identifying 100 conservation and recreation projects, none of which involve motorized recreation! We also hope to gain an understanding tomorrow of the process the BLM will utilize when it undertakes travel management planning in the future.
We will end our day tomorrow afternoon after a series of meetings with the staff of various members of Congress regarding continued funding of RTP (Recreational Trails Program). Positive movement was seen yesterday when the House announced the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure scheduled a mark-up for this Thurs. February 2, 2012. RTP is merely one small (small financially) aspect of HR 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012, a $260 billion proposal to, among other things, reauthorize transportation programs for 5 years.