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Welcome to the April 2021 UFWDA eNews 


 
What is the answer? Management by closure?

I am a member of several communities of public land users.  I have my Jeep and love to hit the trails with my friends, that makes me part of the four-wheel drive community.  I also like to camp in my RV; that is another community that uses public lands, it may also make me an overlander.  Recently I heard talk of Boondocking areas being closed in Arizona from the RV community.  Boondocking is camping off the grid, just like Overlanding people like to do.  The Prescott National Forest near Flagstaff had closed an area to dispersed camping, essentially due to a homeless issue.  While many recreational campers probably would not want to stay in the area due to the filth and issues related to the people not following the rules on stay length and trashing the area, the Forest did not enforce the rules, due to limited staff and resources.  So, management by closure for everyone.

The forest order closed the area to camping “to mitigate natural resource degradation, including negative impacts to soil and water quality, stemming from overuse of the Restricted Areas by the public, as well as to protect public health and safety from forest user conflicts and sanitation issues.”  The order shall remain in effect until Jan 2023.  The forest lists the following: “Camping outside of campgrounds is allowed in many parts of the Prescott National Forest, but camping on the forest near the City of Prescott is limited to designated dispersed sites and has a 7-day stay limit per 30-day period.  Camping outside of the Prescott Basin is limited to 14-days in a 30-day period.”  Violations are punishable by fines and or imprisonment by US code.  So why close the area?  There seems to be a solution: fines and imprisonment, I think that is also called enforcement.

We see lack of enforcement of the rules and the management by closure all the time.  A few people that do not want to follow the rules, so they ruin it for the majority because management by closure is easier for the agencies.  Also, we are moving to a society that does not want to hold people accountable for their actions.  The homeless pile up not only in our cities, but apparently in the Prescott National Forest.  Excuses are made for them; they have mental health issues or drug problems and our elected officials either do not want to deal with the root problem, or their hands are tied by laws enacted by the states.  I do not know what the answer is to solve this mounting problem, but our communities of users need to get engaged.  Engaged in the political discussions with our land managers, local, state, and federal officials.  Often our communities of users look at the problems as the other community’s problem.  In this case I have used as an example, they mention closure due to “user conflict” although we recently demonstrated that management agencies can not use that as an excuse for closure orders.  The agencies must enforce their rules, not just close the area to everyone or favor one user type over another.

We as users of public lands need to come together as one community of users.  We need to support the groups fighting for us.  So many of the members of the user communities are not engaged.  We have so much to lose, but so many users seem detached from these issues.  There are discussions within the communities of users regarding a myriad of issues, but often access is not one of them.  How do we engage everyone?  I am not sure but sure that I for one, will continue to try.  Discuss this with your friends let's come up with a solution, share this with your community.  Who listens to you,.. can they benefit from getting involved?

Steve Egbert
President, United Four Wheel Drive Associations, Inc.


 

City council tries to hammer out a noise ordinance local businesses can accept.

  • Anastasia Hufham, Moab Sun News Apr 15, 2021 

At their regular meeting on April 13, the Moab City Council discussed a proposed noise control ordinance draft for the city. The ordinance covers potential noise pollution from musical instruments to construction, but the primary subject of debate is the section on vehicular noise.

The Grand County Commission also debated the issue of vehicular noise at two workshops last week, focusing on limiting fleet sizes and changing land-use codes.

“The City of Moab is facing an excessive noise problem. The council has heard from citizens that their sleep is being affected, they can’t open their windows at night, and in general their health is being affected as well as their enjoyment of their property,” said City Attorney Laurie Simonson. “The council has also heard that the noise is keeping people from visiting Moab, so it’s affecting our economy.”
Read the full article here

Reality vs. Perception... OHV vs. ANTI-OHV.. Jeep vs. SXS..

How do we all find balance in OHV recreation here in California?? How does OHV as a whole come together moving forward??

Something to consider... Some will read and understand. Some will just continue to ignore and do what they want no matter the consequences of their actions while out on the trails and in the campgrounds or dispersed camping areas.
We, who love and enjoy "OHV" Off Highway Vehicles understand the perception of the actions of OHV and unfortunately it does matter. It may not be fair, but the anti-OHV do not care if you're having fun or feel that you're not doing anything wrong, but un-safe, crazy, or disruptive behavior will continue to be used against us. 

When video captures these behaviors, the Anti-OHV will and do use these videos and play them at meetings when we're fighting to keep Public Land open to OHV. The anti-OHV haters lump one or two bad apples to everything we do and hold all actions against OHV. It's not right, but it's the reality. 

When video is captured, many times the after effects are then photographed. Trash and garbage left behind. Fire pits let unattended and not completely put out. Nails left behind. Resource damage will always come to be a reflection on ALL OHV!
I keep seeing Jeep guys blaming SXS guys and I'm sure short course guys dislike quad guys, etc.. etc.. Here's the deal. The ANTI-OHV all support eachother. They all stand united. The top 5 you all need to know about are these and what their IRS 990 net worth is: CBD, Center for Biological Diversity: $24 million, Audubon: $43 million, Sierra Club: $150 million, League of Women Voters, SLO: $86K, but had a state wide network and resources.. and Oceano Dunes has in addition: Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, Surfrider Foundation: $9.3 million. 

I'd list the assets listed on the pro-OHV association 990 forms, but all combined are under $1 million, We are out-funded.
Some fly flags that have multiple meanings and mis-conceptions. Even though we may not associate these misinterpretations to the flags we have, others tie those to the OHV community and use them against us. What's funny, the anti-OHV want justice, equality, acceptance and understanding. They don't give it, but will demand it from everyone else. 

Very difficult days/years ahead for OHV here in California. In the meantime, we (OHV) should try to understand what we're all up against. We are out-numbered, out-funded, out-politically, out-matched with all the environmental protections they have (I've listed all the protections the Anti-OHV have in their favor... it's a long, long list). They have approached their position the smart way, we on the other hand, the majority are oblivious to what is happening and the implications of their actions..

What do we all need to do? First off.. we need to understand what the perceptions are and do better to not feed into their narrative. We just need to do better. If you're going to be crazy, loud, reckless, then do all that out somewhere away from the general public. We all love to have a good time. Not saying don't continue to have a good time, just be smart.

Second... more importantly..
We need to give either 1. Time. 2. Finances. and/or 3. Resources. Learn from the Environmentalist. They give of their time. They call in, write letters and unite. They all have monthly donation plans. They have money automatically being donated each month to their non-profit. Friends of Oceano Dunes has a paypal option to have a set amount donated each month. This would be a huge game changer if the amount of visitors we have who come and enjoy the Oceano Dunes were to all donated just $20 per month... wow! FoOD is doing everything to Save the Dunes with all volunteers and a paid attorney. To learn from the environmental groups, they all have 3-5 full time advocates running their non-profit. There is no reason why the top 3-4 non-profit OHV Associations cannot afford 3-5 full time advocates running their non-profit.

The OHV community can and should financially be about to make this happen. Honestly, each association should have 50,000 members. Having only 3-5,000 is mind boggling. Resources: Many OHV users have services they can offer. They have massive customer bases they can help get the information out to. They have the ability to help with printing, marketing, posters, banners, merchandise, TV commercials, website, etc.. etc.. We all can help in some way!
Please consider to help an OHV Association here in California. Encourage your association to support, network and collaborate with one another. We must unite and re-build the OHV Associations here in California. 
I 100% guarantee that the volunteers I work along side have OHV Land Advocacy 100% focused on and I will only work with associations / non-profits who are fighting for our OHV access! 
#protectohvaccess
#AccessForAll
#friendsofoceanodunes
#corva

Michael McGarity
 
10th Circ. Says Offroad Vehicle Move Doesn't Need Review
By Michael Phillis
Law360 (April 8, 2021, 10:23 PM EDT) -- The Tenth Circuit rejected an appeal by environmental groups that opposed a Trump-era move to allow offroad vehicle use on certain public lands in Utah that are home to a protected cactus, deciding the federal government was not required to do an environmental review first.

The panel upheld a lower court and said that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had the authority to close certain public lands to access from offroad vehicles, also called off-highway vehicles, without first doing an environmental review and nothing required them to go through a more onerous process to open those areas back up.

The panel said it was the first time it had addressed the reopening issue that the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups said required an analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act that the prior administration never did. The panel rejected the groups' effort to reverse the BLM's 2019 decision to reopen 5,400 acres of Factory Butte in Utah.

An environmental review is only required if an agency has discretion over its decision, the order said. The 10th Circuit held in 2006 in Utah Shared Access All v. Carpenter  that if an area open for OHV use is being unduly harmed by them, officials "shall immediately close" the area to OHVs, a decision considered non-discretionary and therefore not subject to NEPA review. 

"If the determination triggering the closure order is not discretionary, then neither is the determination triggering the re-opening," U.S. Circuit Judge Mary Beck Briscoe wrote for the panel.

The panel said under BLM's regulations in Section 8341.2(a), the environmental groups' argument "operates as a one-way ratchet where the BLM 'exercises judgment when implementing a closure order, but exercises discretion when lifting one.'"

The resources management plan for the area, which is a broad plan for managing public lands, designates it as open for OHV use, but a temporary order closing access was issued in 2006 over concerns such use harmed protected plants like the Wright fishhook cactus. In 2019, the Trump administration started the process for reopening and the federal government eventually concluded "that opening the Factory Butte area to cross-county OHV use was not likely to jeopardize the Wright fishhook cactus," according to the opinion.

The panel noted that the environmental groups in this appeal don't challenge the merits of the BLM's decision, only its refusal to do an environmental analysis. The groups argue in part that the federal government's finding that "the adverse effects are eliminated" and that sufficient measures are put in place to stop the harm from happening again is "itself discretionary" and must undergo an environmental analysis, according to the opinion.

The panel said that BLM's consideration of the elimination of adverse effects "more closely resembles judgment than it does discretion" that would force it to do more. Section 8341.2(a) forces the BLM to act when it believes the "adverse effects are eliminated," according to the panel.

"An environmental analysis under NEPA is not required where an agency action is mandated by law, and the environmental analysis 'would serve no purpose,'" Judge Briscoe said.

A representative with the federal government declined to comment.

A representative with the environmental groups did not immediately return a request for comment.

U.S. Circuit Judges Mary Beck Briscoe, Harris L Hartz and Joel M. Carson sat on the panel for the Tenth Circuit.

The NRDC was represented by Sharon Buccino in house. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Wilderness Society are collectively represented by Stephen H.M. Bloch, Joseph J. Bushyhead and Laura E. Peterson of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

The federal government was represented by Kevin W. McArdle and Andrew M. Bernie of the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division.

The case is Natural Resources Defense Council et al v. Joelle McCarthy et al, case number 20-4064, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
Rock Junction
June 3-June 6, 2021

The Grand Mesa Jeep Club, based out of Grand Junction, Colorado, is located in a very unique setting for 4-wheel drive adventure loving enthusiasts. Within an hour and a half are some of the most spectacular scenic trails and some of the most extreme rock crawling trails in the United States of America. With that in mind, the club created Rock Junction -- a trail-riding event highlighting our area.

For this event, expect to find yourself not necessarily trail riding in Grand Junction every day. Explore places like Unaweep Canyon, Gateway, Bangs Canyon, Montrose, the Book Cliffs, Rangely, Moab, and the various trails around the Grand Valley. Each night there is a post-trail event to eat and tell tall tales of the days adventures. Wake up the next morning and you're off to a new location for a fantastic day of wheeling!
 
Rock Junction is a multi-day event where participants drive their own 4WD vehicle on family-friendly group trail rides.  Trail rides range from mild and scenic to extreme rock crawling. Each evening features a BBQ hosted by the Grand Mesa Jeep Club.
This event is permitted by the BLM and the USFS.
Best Uses for Your Cell Phone in the Backcountry
by Joe Pasteris March 18, 2021

These days, nearly everyone heading into the backcountry carries a smartphone in their pocket. These powerful gadgets can, of course, make calls, send texts, and check email when in range, but they also offer many useful features far away from cell towers.
In the backcountry, cell phones have become a go-to navigation tool, an alarm clock for an alpine start up the peak, and the place to conveniently store guide books and favorite maps. Check out these ways you can use your phone in the backcountry even when cell service is nonexistent.

https://blog.gaiagps.com/best-uses-cell-phone-backcountry/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=March+2021+Newsletter+3+-+Member
 

GET THOSE JEEPS READY - BANTAM IS BACK!

The ongoing pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty, but there is one thing that we want you to know. Bantam IS happening! While we fully anticipated we would be able to have the majority of the Festival following Pennsylvania's earlier coronavirus restrictions, the recent increases in capacity for outdoor events are enabling us to have the Festival with only some modifications. Of course, social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing guidelines will be encouraged to keep everyone safe. If you have been waiting for positive news before you register your Jeep, your wait is over! Lets get this Jeep party started!

KEEP IT LEGAL:

Some time ago, I was spending some time with a friend swapping off-road stories.  He told me about his attempt to access a small Montana lake which he had recently learned of. However, when he described his route, I quickly realized he was intending to go via an old mining road he had seen. One little issue. That old mining road is now a non-motorized trail (aka; Walk-in only).  He said it was perfectly OK because no signs were saying that particular road was closed. ~~ Well, that worked out nicely.  I have been looking for a new subject to post on and here is it.  That was convenient.  

Motorized Access To Roads and Trails On Public Lands:
                                                                                                     

Things I Hear Some say...
“If there isn’t a sign saying it is closed, the road is open.”                                                                        
I hear this one A LOT. It does not work that way. The Forest Rules (regulations), which have the effect of law, and the law itself, have no actual requirement for agencies to place signs indicating allowable use and/or access. Just to make it a little more confusing, in this area when they do post signs, the BLM likes to post which trails, on their lands, are open.  The Forest Service, on the other hand, seemingly prefers to post which trails are closed. A small difference, but important to know. Even when they do post them, lots of signs are destroyed by people who falsely believe the lack of a sign will stop a law enforcement officer from issuing a ticket. Well...not so much. The law is prepared for this. Essentially, the law states that YOU are responsible to learn what roads you are allowed to use, how you can use them, and when you can use them. Signs are helpful to have but, the lack of a sign does not legally mean anything. What you need is the appropriate forest map and to take a few minutes before and during your trip to consult it. More on maps later.

“It is clearly made for full-sized vehicles so it is legal to drive one there.”              
That is not how this works. It's not how any of this works. In this area, many walking, horseback riding, snowmobile, and ATV trails were once roads for full-sized vehicles.  As well, seeing someone else traveling on a road does not make it legal to be there either.  That excuse will not impress an officer or a judge and the other person may have been authorized to be there such as in logging operations.

“It shows the road (or trail) on my GPS so it is a legal trail.”                                                        
This one is becoming more popular as GPS’ have become more common. GPS maps and most non-government forest maps show what is there, not necessarily what is legal. If a road is visible on aerial or satellite photos or earlier maps, it will likely end up on a current GPS or other topo maps.  Private roads show up too, that does not make it right for you to trespass there either. Few maps show if a road is private.  However, MVUM and Forest Visitor maps do show which forest roads are closed, open, seasonally restricted, or vehicle type restricted.  (Note:  The Forest Service has recently started offering some GPS-enabled Motor Vehicle Use Map but they don’t cover much of Montana yet.)

“My buddy has been going there for (place # of years here) and he has never received a ticket"                                                Not having been caught has nothing to do with something being lawful or not.  I went about 10 years without seeing a single Forest Service or BLM officer, in the forest. Then, I ran into the same one about 8 times during one three or four-month span. Officers are, admittedly, often few and far between so your odds of getting caught may be small but, they are out there. 

“Nobody ever really gets in trouble anyway.”                                                                                   
Just because it is not on the evening news does not mean it does or did not happen.  Yes, the vast majority of penalties are small. However, the penalties for violating these rules can still be hard to swallow. The regulation states: “It is prohibited to possess or operate a motor vehicle on National Forest System lands on the...National Forest other than in accordance with these [travel] designations (36 CFR 261.13). Violators of 36 CFR 261.13 are subject to a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to 6 months or both (18 U.S.C. 3571(e)).  This prohibition applies regardless of the presence of signs.”   Note that fines can double for organized groups.  Face it, you probably don’t want to be one of those who do get caught.


How to stay legal:
The Forest Service states; “It is the responsibility of the user to acquire the current Motor Vehicle User Map (MVUM). An MVUM shows the National Forest System roads, National Forest System trails, and the areas on National Forest System lands…that are designated for motor vehicle use pursuant to 36 CFR 212.51.” These MVUM maps cover a smaller area or areas and are a little more precise than the Forest Visitor Maps. However, in many areas, an MVUM is not available yet. In that case, you should acquire a Forest Visitors map.  MVUMs are free and Forest Visitor Map hard copies are usually $14.00. Some maps are available for download too. These maps will tell you what roads are open, the authorized type of vehicle(s), and when they are open/closed in the case of seasonal restrictions.
National Forest Service Maps Page: https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/maps

The real reason all this matters: You may or may not care if you get a ticket, as I stated above, they are usually small. But the real danger of traveling closed roads, in my opinion, is less about getting a ticket but more about losing our access.  Those who don’t care or don't know enough to care are a danger to our access. Bumping into FS or BLM law enforcement is pretty uncommon, in many areas. This makes people think they can get away with their transgressions scot-free. Remember, just because an officer did not see the transgression does not mean they cannot tell it occurred. Not getting a ticket may be nice but, if you are part of the reason more access is closed off, we ALL pay.
Now I hope you know a little more about access.  Take a little time to learn about the MVUM and the Forest Visitor Maps. They contain a good deal of information YOU need to keep you on the right road. 
Wheel Safe!
Richard Hiltz  https://www.facebook.com/montanaoverland4x4 
Please feel free to forward these editions of UFWDA eNews to other four wheelers. Because some of our member organizations don't enroll their members as members of UFWDA, we don't have email addresses of those individuals.  Member numbers count when advocating for a cause.

Here at UFWDA, we are volunteer based and our Board members are geographically dispersed, so regular 'online' meetings have been our primary management tool for quite some time. Our 'overheads' are minimal, but we still need to have a good membership base. You can join or renew at 
https://united4wd.org/join-ufwda
Stay safe
Peter Vahry: editor

UFWDA Facebook updates
 
The UFWDA Environmental Director, Jerry Smith maintains a steady flow of information through Facebook  which includes updates from sources such as the Federal Register  
There is now a link to that FB page on https://united4wd.org/land-use-access
UFWDA eNews is published monthly, about the 15th of each month. Compiling eNews depends on you, our readers, for material about events, land access issues, etc. The monthly deadline is the 10th of each month and material, or links to sources should be emailed to editor@united4wd.org 
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