Washington Newsletter – January 2018

Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River, Alaska

Snowmobiler, Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River, Alaska. Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.

Happy New Year!

Most people have little trouble coming up with resolutions for the New Year, but it’s keeping them that turns out to be a challenge.  I always resolve to exercise more, but as the months go by I find my intention doesn’t always turn into action.

Something we cannot ignore or forget is the issue of OHV safety.  Our friends at the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute have developed a set of 8 Golden Rule for ATV safety.   To start 2018 out right, we want share with you these common sense rules and hope you and your family will decide to follow them as you head outdoors to enjoy some OHV recreation.

  1. Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
  2. Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law – another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
  3. Never drive or ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  4. Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
  5. Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.
  6. Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.
  7. Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
  8. Take a hand-on ATV RiderCourse and the free online E-Course. Visit atvsafety.org or call 800-887-2887.

Similarly, the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association has safety rules for ROVs.

  1. Always fasten your seat belt, wear a helmet and other protective gear and keep all parts of your body inside the ROV.
  2. Avoid paved surfaces. ROVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
  3. Drive only in designated areas, at a safe speed, and use care when turning and crossing slopes.
  4. Never drive or ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  5. Never drive an ROV unless you’re 16 or older and have a valid driver’s license. ROVs are not toys.
  6. Never carry more passengers than the ROV is designated for, and never allow a passenger who is too small to sit in a passenger seat to ride in the ROV.
  7. Read and follow the operator’s manual and warning labels.
  8. Take a hands-on ROV Basic DriverCourse℠ and the free online E-Course. Visit rohva.org or call 866-267-2751.

Simple rules, but rules that ensure we all can enjoy OHV recreation not only in 2018, but for years to come.

Department of the Interior building, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of the Interior building, Washington, D.C. Photo by Matthew Bisanz.

BLM – Heading West?

We have commented before about Secretary Zinke’s plans to relocate the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from Washington to somewhere in the western part of the U.S.  His idea is beginning to pick up steam.  At a hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) embraced the idea of moving BLM to somewhere west of the Mississippi.  During the hearing, Chairman Bishop released a letter he and five of his subcommittee chairmen signed calling for the relocation.  Unless there is some unforeseen lawsuit blocking such a transfer, we see this happening sometime in 2018, along with a general reorganization of the Department of the Interior.  Secretary Zinke has made it clear that he believes that the department can do more with fewer people.  His FY18 budget proposal for BLM called for the reduction of more than 1000 jobs, reducing total employment from 9,411 to 8,349.

We expect a lot of opposition to these proposed moves, both on Capitol Hill and from various interest groups, but at the end of the day, the only real move taking place is one headed in a western direction.  BLM employees had better start ordering the packing boxes.  Soon there could be a lot of empty offices in the Interior Department Headquarters Building in Washington.

Utah Part Two

In the December newsletter, we gave a lot of coverage to the anticipated action by President Trump to reduce the size of both the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.  Well, on December 4th he did just that and as we surmised, lawsuits were immediately filed to block any action taken by the President.  The lawsuits take the position that while the President has the authority to create a national monument under the under of the Antiquities Act of 1906, that act does not specifically give the Chief Executive the authority to modify previous declarations.  And while factually this is correct, there is precedent for monument modification since previous Presidents have done so on numerous occasions.

Members of the Utah congressional delegation wasted little time in introducing legislation (H.R. 4532 and H.R. 4558) which mirrors the President’s boundary adjustments.  We anticipate that these measures will move swiftly through the House in this session, but that the prospect for passage in the Senate is less likely.  This could end up becoming a multi-year process.

Fort Sage Special Recreation Management Area, California

Motorbiker, Fort Sage Special Recreation Management Area, California. Photo by Eric Coulter, BLM.

2018

The New Year means that a lot of issues will be considered that could affect access to public lands for OHV recreation.  We hope you will continue to ride with us as we chart a course forward.  Your active participation is of critical importance day after day.

Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access

About ARRA

Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) was formed to ensure that Americans are not arbitrarily denied the right to responsibly experience and enjoy the public lands that belong to the citizens of the United States. The members of ARRA, which include horseback riders, personal watercraft users, off-highway vehicle and snowmobile riders, and vacationing families, have joined together to provide input on decisions regarding land use designation, recreation opportunities, and preservation. Its members seek responsible consideration of competing activities, which are based on sound environmental principles.

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