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  • 5-28-04.


    Representatives from ten organizations were invited to a meeting of
    the U.S. House of Representatives Western Caucus in Washington D.C.
    to present their concerns regarding management of public lands by
    federal agencies

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 19, 2004) - An historic event took place on
    Wednesday, May 19th, when representatives from ten organizations in
    California and Arizona with a direct interest in off-highway vehicle
    (OHV) recreation presented their concerns to the U.S. House of
    Representative's Western Caucus. Roy Denner, President and CEO of
    the Off-Road Business Association, and delegation leader, explained,
    "We believe it is vitally important that our Congressmen understand
    that, as OHV recreation is growing dramatically across the U.S.,
    lands available for this form of recreation have been drastically
    reduced." Congressman Chris Cannon, from Utah, Chair of the Caucus,
    expressed similar concerns.

    Vice Chairman of the American Sand Association, Bob Mason, ran a
    short video clip that depicted kids, families, and handicapped
    off-roaders enjoying recreation at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation
    Area (ISDRA) - an area that has been reduced to almost 1/3 of its
    original size as a result of lawsuits filed by environmental
    organizations. Wally Leimgruber, Imperial County Supervisor, told
    the Caucus "Closures in the ISDRA are having a serious negative
    impact on the struggling economy of Imperial County. Many of our
    merchants depend on this world-class recreation area for their
    survival." "I certainly agree with Wally", said Ken Rosevear,
    representing the Yuma Chamber of Commerce, "The Gateway Communities
    Program was developed to bring the communities surrounding the ISDRA
    together to assure that pubic lands remain open to the public."

    Jan McGarvie, Director of Legislation for the San Diego Off-Road
    Coalition, discussed the misuse of fee demo monies by the BLM: "The
    original intent of the program was to provide funds to be used for
    improvements, maintenance and operation of the ISDRA, not for studies
    that are mandated by the federal government which could ultimately
    lead to more closures."

    Americans for Forest Access representative, Eddie Phillips, displayed
    maps and photos depicting closures in the San Bernardino National
    Forest. According to Phillips "Closures of access roads have made it
    impossible to maintain forest health and block fire fighting
    apparatus from getting to fires. This was a major problem in last
    year's forest fires all over California." He also maintains that
    actual use of the forest roads is what keeps them clear for travel.

    Becky Antle, representing the Arizona State Association of Four Wheel
    Drive Clubs and John Stewart of the California Association of Four
    Wheel Drive Clubs told the Caucus that thousands of miles of
    backcountry dirt roads in the desert and the forests across the
    western states have been closed to public access. Randy Banis, of
    the Southern California Land Rover Club added, "A thorough GPS survey
    of a portion of the California Desert, performed by my club, shows
    that less than half of the routes we found were included in the BLM's
    route inventory. We think this is typical of route inventories
    across the desert. What this means is that routes regularly used by
    the public that are not in the inventory will be automatically

    Following the Western Caucus presentation the OHV group met
    individually with many Congressmen and staff who are particularly
    concerned about public access to public lands. Denner commented, "We
    believe that the recreation community needs to visit our country's
    leaders in Washington regularly to make sure that they know what's
    happening on the ground with regard to OHV recreation. We expect
    lawmakers to be concerned about public access to public lands as well
    as environmental protection."
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