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    Dear BlueRibbon Coalition members, supporters and ACTION ALERT subscribers,

    BRC's Legal Team has completed their review of the Forest Service OHV
    Rule. I'll be posting a detailed analysis on our website later this

    Please do not underestimate the importance of this rulemaking. Given
    its potential effects to the OHV community, this could be the single
    most important Forest Service planning initiative in decades.

    On balance, we believe the Proposed Rule represents a
    carefully-reasoned effort to bring necessary guidance to USFS OHV
    management. The agency has been reasonably responsive to the
    concerns and input we have provided through this point of the
    process. Trust me on this, without the involvement of BRC and other
    OHV organizations during the early stages, this Proposed Rule would
    have been considerably worse.

    Further input by those most affected by the rule will improve and
    otherwise serve to refine aspects of the Proposed Rule. **READ THAT
    AGAIN** It's YOU that's going to be affected by this policy. YOUR
    attention to this issue is VITAL!

    As I write this message, the anti-access crowd is in Washington D.C.
    preparing to distribute glossy 4-color press kits to an eager media.
    Their foundation funded lobbyists are already making appointments
    with key administration officials and Forest Service employees. Their
    obvious intent is to alter the proposed rule so that it becomes a

    Our apathy, our lack of knowledge and our silence will allow them to
    succeed. Let's work together to disappoint them, shall we?

    If you do your part, I promise we?ll do ours. We are asking you to
    forward this email to as many OHV enthusiasts as possible. Encourage
    your friends and family to log on to our website and get involved.
    Call the leadership of your local OHV club and get the phone tree's
    and email networks fired up!

    The comment deadline is set for Sept. 13, 2004. For your convenience,
    and to facilitate your efforts to get your friends and family
    involved, we've posted some info below. There is much more on our

    Thanks in advance for taking action,
    Brian Hawthorne
    Public Lands Director
    BlueRibbon Coalition

    PS BRC will be posting a "form letter" on our Rapid Response Center
    webpage soon. DON'T WAIT! For maximum effectiveness, consider
    sending your comments via snail mail, fax or individual emails. Feel
    free to use our comment info to help with your letter. Finally, for
    super mega-action effectiveness, send a copy of your comment letter
    to your Congressional representative. Use our Rapid Response page to
    get their contact info (It's easy! Just click here and enter your zip
    code )


    This summarizes BRC's point-by-point analysis of the Proposed Rule
    published in the July 15, 2004, Federal Register (69 Fed.Reg. 42381)
    by the U.S. Forest Service entitled Travel Management; Designated
    Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use (the "Proposed Rule").

    This analysis is designed to help you participate in the rulemaking
    and fully understand its affects on your recreational lifestyle.

    The Forest Service is accepting public comment on the draft rules
    through Sept. 13 by mail to:
    Proposed Rule OHV's
    c/o Content Analysis Team
    P.O. Box 221150
    Salt Lake City, UT 84122-1150
    by e-mail to
    and by fax at (801) 517-1014



    The Forest Service proposes to amend regulations regarding travel
    management on National Forest System lands to clarify policy related
    to motor vehicle use, including the use of off-highway vehicles. The
    proposed rule would require the establishment of a system of roads,
    trails, and areas designated for motor vehicle use. The proposed rule
    also would prohibit the use of motor vehicles off the designated
    system, as well as motor vehicle use on the system that is not
    consistent with the classes of motor vehicles and, if applicable, the
    time of year, designated for use.

    As part of this effort, the Forest Service is proposing revisions to
    36 CFR parts 212, 251, 261, and 295 to provide for a system of
    National Forest System roads, National Forest System trails, and
    areas on National Forest System lands designated for motor vehicle

    Detailed information is available from the Forest Service on their

    * The proposed rule presents broad policy, not "top-down" management.

    * The proposed rule avoids unreachable mandates for route designations.

    * The proposed rule creates opportunities to include "user created"
    routes in the formal designation process but places the onus on
    recreationists to identify such routes. The agency and anti-access
    forces frequently raise concerns about "user-created" routes and
    imply that such routes are illegal and must be eliminated. That is
    not correct, however, as many routes were legitimately formed during
    "open" management. Many such routes provide desirable and valuable
    recreation opportunities, and in some instances might even provide a
    better overall access solution than inventoried or formally-approved

    * The proposed rule contains important provisions acknowledging the
    legitimacy of OHV recreation and access.

    * The proposed rule attempts to clarify interpretation of executive
    orders which are often used by the anti-access crowd to close trails.

    * The proposed rule presents a "wake up call" to the OHV community
    regarding the management of OHV use. The rule places a responsibility
    on the OHV community to reach out and develop relationships with
    forest service personnel when developing and verifying route
    inventories and in subsequent travel management planning. in short,
    there are no more excuses for the OHV community. We must get involved
    or the gates will be locked tight.

    * The proposed rule contains a snowmobile exemption.

    THE BAD:

    * The proposed rule creates significant and unprecedented logistical
    and legal challenges for the agency.

    * The proposed rule is supposedly motivated by a desire to address
    "unmanaged recreation" but this concern will not be addressed simply
    by adoption of any nationwide rule. The organized OHV community
    should support the proposed rule only on the condition that an
    unprecedented forest service commitment to recreation management
    accompanies a final rule.

    * The proposed rule leaves the inventory process to the discretion of
    local land managers. The rule plainly allows managers to accept
    public input identifying uninventoried routes and to consider formal
    designation of such routes for vehicle travel. However, the proposed
    rule does not explicitly address the question of the degree, if any,
    of forest service inventory activity that will precede any
    designation process. Thus, under the proposed rule uninventoried
    routes may be considered for designation but the onus will fall on
    interested members of the public, not the agency, to identify such

    * The proposed rule does nothing to alleviate unlawful abuse of
    emergency order powers. Unfortunately, many land managers have seized
    on the "emergency" closure authority to effectively bypass a formal
    public planning process, implementing immediate closures that have
    lasted for years and which have been extremely difficult for OHV
    enthusiasts to effectively challenge. If anything, the Proposed Rule
    adds to this concern.

    * The proposed rule presents a "wake up call" to the OHV community
    regarding the management of OHV use. Now, for those of you paying
    attention, you will notice this is the same issue we presented in
    "THE GOOD" part of the analysis. Why? Because, while Rule give
    opportunity to the OHV community to reach out and develop
    relationships with Forest Service personnel, it also
    has the potential to really hurt us if we don't. IF WE FAIL TO GET

    * The proposed rule creates discretionary authority for some forests
    to more formally restrict snowmobile access to designated routes and
    areas. The Proposed Rule includes "snowmobile" in the ORV regulatory
    scheme, but exempts snowmobiles from the proposed mandatory
    designation policy. However, local managers could elect to designate
    routes or areas where snowmobile use would be allowed, restricted or
    prohibited by using the designation process outlined in Proposed
    Sections 212.52-212.57.


    The anti-access crowd is pushing hard to morph this rule into a
    top-down, impossible-to-implement, one-size-fits-all management
    nightmare. They do not seem sincere in their statements about wanting
    only to limit OHV's to properly designated roads and trails.

    The upshot of their proposal is to close all OHV routes immediately.
    They demand every "olo-gist" in the world sign off on every liner
    millimeter before allowing any vehicle use. They are pushing hard for
    the impossible to achieve "no impairment" standard for OHV trails.
    Naturally, they'll demand the Forest Service complete all of that
    within a two year timeframe. Miss it by one minute, and you can bet
    the farm those foundation funded lawyers will be in the federal
    courts petitioning for immediate and final elimination of OHV use.

    Let's disappoint them, shall we?


    * I strongly support the Proposed Rule?s recognition of
    vehicle-oriented recreation as a legitimate use of our National

    * I also strongly support the Proposed Rule's approach of providing
    broad national policy guidance while leaving the details of any
    decision making process to the discretion of local land managers.

    * The agency must reject pressure from anti-access forces to create a
    deadline for the designation process or to create specific "one size
    fits all" management prescriptions through this rulemaking. It is
    inappropriate and unworkable to dictate on-the-ground management
    changes through a nationwide OHV rule.

    * I appreciate the need for flexibility in the inventory and planning
    process. The rule should be modified, however, to require the agency
    to acknowledge and fully act upon its responsibility to complete an
    inventory of all existing roads and trails. I agree that the public
    should be allowed to provide early input into this process,
    specifically including identification of legitimate but uninventoried

    * I strongly oppose any national or local deadline or timetable for
    inventories. The final rule should continue to acknowledge and
    further clarify the importance of user contributions to a flexible
    and broad-ranging inventory and scoping process before any formal
    route designation.

    * The agency's "emergency" closure authority must be better defined
    and limited. Some land managers improperly avoid the public travel
    planning process by instituting a patchwork of "temporary, emergency"
    closures that continue indefinitely. The final rule should clarify
    that closures without public notice and input under 36 C.F.R. section
    212.52(b) must be documented
    by publicly-available monitoring and analysis that identifies the
    specific impact(s) and vehicles or uses causing those impact(s) to be
    addressed by the closure and cannot remain in effect for more than
    one year without formal analysis.

    * Please make sure the final rule clarifies that segments of any road
    may be designated for use by non-street legal vehicles where
    appropriate to avoid blanket prohibitions of non-street legal OHV use
    on roads such as Level 3 roads.

    * Please make sure the final rule clarifies that any trail may be
    designated for use by street legal vehicles where appropriate to
    avoid blanket prohibitions of street legal OHVs, particularly 4x4s
    and SUVs, on all trails.

    * I am concerned about the agency's commitment to effective
    implementation of any OHV rule. The rule is supposedly motivated by
    a need to address "unmanaged recreation" but good management will not
    flow from a whisk of a pen in Washington, D.C. Any final OHV rule
    must be accompanied by adequate budget, staffing, and priority to
    achieve critical on-the-ground goals.
    1997 Jeep Wrangler