Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) News May 4, 2019 4:34:44 GMT -5
Post by chuckmarler on May 4, 2019 4:34:44 GMT -5
OHV rider, Samoa Dunes Recreation Area, California. Photo by Jeff Fontana, BLM.
The Senate confirmed the nomination of David Bernhardt to be the Secretary of the Department of the Interior on a vote of 56-41. Mr. Bernhardt had been acting Secretary since the first of the year. The Secretary’s celebration of his confirmation was short lived because four days later the Interior Department’s Acting Inspector General opened an investigation into possible conflicts of interest on the part of the Secretary. The investigation was launched based upon information provided by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn). We have no idea how long the IG’s investigation will last, but at a minimum, it has to be a distraction for the new Secretary as he begins his tenure at Interior.
Land and Water Conservation Fund
In January, the Land and Water Conservation Fund received permanent authorization when the Congress enacted the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. (Public Law 116-9). Even though authorization is now permanent, monies must still be appropriated on an annual basis in order to support the activities of the fund. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WVA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) now want to provide permanent funding at the level of $900 million per year, circumventing the regular appropriations process.
OHV rider, Flat Top-Peach Valley OHV Area, Colorado. Photo by Uncompahgre OHV Trail Crew/BLM.
Steens Mountain, Oregon
A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it failed to establish an environmental baseline prior to approving the Steens Mountain Travel Management Plan (TMP) and the Steens Mountain Comprehensive Recreation Plan (CRP). Those plans, among other things, allowed for OHV access to 36 miles of primitive routes. The court decision is a setback for OHV recreation in this very special recreation area.
The idea of transferring the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to someplace west of the Mississippi River is still alive, but it may well be on live support. Frustration is growing among both Republicans and Democrats alike on Capitol Hill on the lack of specifics coming out of the Department of the Interior (DOI) in terms of its plans and timetable for the move, including the actual site for BLM’s new headquarters. Four states, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, have all been mentioned as possible locations.
The transportation reauthorization process has begun on Capitol Hill. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have started holding hearings and seeking input from their members as an outline is being mapped out for the components of the legislation. There is growing recognition that the country’s transportation infrastructure is aging and that something needs to be done to address this need.
Larry E. Smith
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA)
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