POCATELLO, ID (November 9, 2011)–The BlueRibbon Coalition has been asked to testify before Congress regarding three of the most important issues affecting access and recreation on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Rob Bishop (UT), Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands has requested BRC’s Executive Director Greg Mumm to provide testimony on an oversight hearing titled “Forest Service Regulatory Roadblocks to Productive Land Use and Recreation; Proposed Planning Rule, Special-use Permits and Travel Management. The hearing will be held Tuesday, November 15, 2011.
“We are pleased Representative Bishop called on BRC to provide testimony on these important issues. BRC has been urging the Forest Service to steer its planning regulations back to the primary goals of efficiency and expediency in the Forest planning process,” Mumm said. Mumm was also encouraged that Rep. Bishop included the recreation permit issue, noting that BRC has recently appealed to legislators to pass a bill that will modify and streamline the Special-use Permit process. “But perhaps most importantly,” Mumm added, “Congressional oversight is needed regarding the agency’s closure of tens of thousands of roads and trails over the last decade.”
BRC has been concerned for some time that recreational access to lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are threatened by planning regulations that are, in the agency’s own words, costly, complex, and procedurally burdensome. Sadly, the USFS has proposed new planning regulations that only make the situation worse. The new “Proposed Planning Rule” threatens to create a situation that will exacerbate, not resolve, the planning gridlock accelerating through the agency (More information on the web).
Recreationists across the country, both motorized and non-motorized, have also been burdened by overly complex and expensive permit requirements. The recreation permit process as currently implemented on Bureau of Land Management and USFS managed lands is overly bureaucratic, expensive for both agencies and the public, and often applied in an unfair and arbitrary manner. Efforts to encourage the agencies to modify and streamline the process have failed, even when those efforts were supported by agency policy. The current Special-Use Permit process no longer serves the public interest or supports the goals and objectives of land use planning (More info on the web)
BRC applauds Representative Bishop for including the Travel Management planning in this hearing. OHV users initially supported the process, however, in some areas it has been used to make landscape level changes to the Forest Plan and close a huge percentage of existing legal trails and even authorized routes. This is contrary to the regulation and has engendered opposition from motorized and non-motorized recreationists, sportsmen, campers and local communities. Recently, the same subcommittee held a field hearing in Northern California that was focused on trail access to federal timber lands (More info on the web).
The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib - www.sharetrails.org.