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March 4th, 2010, 11:00 AM
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access - www.arra-access.com

ARRA Washington Newsletter
March 2010

In This Issue...
>> Monumental Problem!
>> Forest Service Planning Rule
>> Enforcement Legislation
>> Other News

Read this issue and about other important access issues that may
affect your use of public lands. Now on the ARRA Website
http://www.arra-access.com/site/R?i=fSPDTeDwkCdQFHFK55VG5A..


ARRA Washington Newsletter
March 2010

Monumental Problem!
-------------------
A couple of weeks ago, word leaked out about a secret, internal study, ordered by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Salazar, on potential areas that could be declared National Monuments under the Antiquities Act. An Interior Department spokesperson described the list of 17 hot spots as something that came out a brainstorming session held at the department. What a session! Under the Antiquities Act, Mr. Obama could make such a declaration with the simple stroke of his Presidential pen.

Negative reaction on the part of western members of Congress has been swift. Many remembered the creation of eight new National Monuments and the expansion of one existing Monument area, encompassing more than 1.1 million acres, during the closing days of the Clinton Administration. These designations came much to the surprise of many local citizens living in or adjacent to the designated areas. Secretary Salazar has sought to reassure Governors and legislators from the 17 targeted areas that no decisions would be made by the Obama Administration without first seeking local input. This response is reassuring, but we also know from sources within the Department, that once the list saw the light of day, sheer panic reigned in the Department as political appointees worked to come up with an explanation for the report. Damage control was priority number one because of the potential political fallout in the west.

Fortunately, the news of this plan became publicly known before the Secretary was able to send his recommendations to the President. Since this disclosure, legislation has been introduced in the Congress that would exempt certain states from the Antiquities Act: Utah, Montana, Alaska, Colorado, Nevada and California. This exemption would not become effective until Congress passes the appropriate legislation, so the threat remains. Wyoming is currently the only western state to have this exempt status.

For a few days in February, the Interior Department had a monumental problem once they realized their secret document was public. In a democracy, a little sunlight has a way of cleansing the process as well as motivating those who care. The revelation of the Interior Department document has accomplished both. The Department is now treading a bit more carefully and more Americans are now aware that monument designations can happen with the simple application of some Presidential ink on a piece of paper. If you would like to read about the 17 areas identified in the now famous Interior Department brainstorming session, you can view the document on the ARRA website:

http://www.arra-access.com/site/R?i=8vY4fhXhHGdGxgLNYQ0f7g..

Forest Service Planning Rule
----------------------------
The Forest Service is planning to launch a series of roundtable discussions in many parts of the country on a new planning rule it hopes to develop for the management of our national forests. This is an important undertaking, especially since previous efforts over the last twenty-five years have not been all that successful, primarily due to litigation. The Forest Service is hosting these sessions in order to "facilitate public participation, dialogue, and action collaboration." The ARRA website will provide you with detailed information on where and when these roundtable discussions will be held. To the degree that you and your friends can participate and share your views about how our national forests should be managed, your efforts would be extremely helpful. This is especially true since the Notice of Intent announcing this undertaking barely mentioned the concept of recreation on Forest Service land. We find this a very serious oversight on the part of the agency. So, from a process standpoint, we are very pleased the agency is providing these roundtable sessions. This is something that ARRA specifically requested when we submitted our comments during the scoping process. But from a subject matter, recreation interests, and specifically motorized recreation interests, need to be very proactive throughout this process.

One new issue that deserves your attention is that for the first time ever, the Forest Service is directing its land managers to manage on the basis of climate change issues. This is a rather nebulous issue since the science surrounding the topic of global climate change is very hotly debated. During the last few months, we have seen charges and countercharges over the validity of some of the so-called scientific studies about climate change. Until the controversy can be cleared up (the United Nations has formed a special committee to review the charges that some of the scientific studies weren't all that scientific), it seems premature to throw this requirement into the Forest Service management process.

Over the next twenty months, this planning process will be a topic we will be covering, so pleased keep referring to the ARRA website for the latest information. To learn more now, please visit the ARRA update page:

http://www.arra-access.com/site/R?i=kxtKCTzztXU0H36RU7lPHg..

Enforcement Legislation
-----------------------
We readily admit that enforcement legislation is not a popular subject with some people, but ARRA has long believed that a key component to retaining access to public lands is greater law enforcement. That is why we have consistently supported a revision of our enforcement laws including stiffer fines and penalties for those who do not take good care of the lands owned by all Americans.

We are very pleased that Rep. Salazar (D. Colo.) and Senator Mark Udall (D. Colo.) have introduced companion pieces of legislation in the House and the Senate, H.R. 4589 and S. 2999, which would impose stiff penalties on those who are found guilty of damaging federal lands. We have worked closely with both of these offices on this issue and will continue to work for its passage in the Congress. In previous years, this legislation passed the House of Representatives, but the Senate failed to take similar action.

The Bush Administration supported this legislation and we are hopeful that the Obama Administration will do the same. If you would like to learn more about this legislation, please see the Fact Sheet on ARRA-Access.com (http://www.arra-access.com/site/R?i=h-m4W_X-QHwYKeXH6PEuNw.. ). Also, please contact your elected officials and encourage them to support H.R. 4589 and S. 2999. Our future access to public lands is dependent upon enhanced law enforcement.

Other News
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The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) continues to be held hostage by the failure of Congress to resolve funding issues relating to federal transportation programs. The House and the Senate remain at loggerheads in reaching a compromise, so the future of RTP remains up in the air. We will keep you posted as this issue continues to evolve, but we are hoping for a resolution in the very near future. In the meantime, be sure to use the ARRA website to nominate your favorite RTP project for the 2010 Coalition for Recreational Trials award.

Many of you were probably amused when the Washington area received upwards of 40 inches of snow in two successive snowstorms in February. We had real gridlock for a while, not the political kind but rather the kind only Mother Nature could deliver. This is a city that becomes paralyzed by the prediction of 2 inches of snow let alone the actual delivery of more than twenty times that amount. One amusing sight was seeing a snowmobile riding around Dupont Circle while a massive snowball fight by hundreds of Washingtonians was going on at the same time. To say the least, we are weary of winter and are looking forward to the arrival of spring later this month.

Here's to spring!

Sincerely,

Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access