N4WDA MEMBER CLUBS HELP OUT ON PNMTA CLEANUPS

On Saturday, May 14 th and Sunday, May 15 th , the Sierra Stompers and the Komstock Krawlerz, member clubs of the Nevada Four Wheel Drive Association, were out in force at the annual Pine Nut Mountains Trails Association cleanup.

The PNMTA is a group of off road bikers, atv enthusiasts and 4 wheelers that recreate in the Pine Nut Mountains Range and are also responsible stewards of these lands. N4WDA and PNMTA have a long-standing working relationship with such items as the Greater Sage-Grouse and the Nevada Commission on OHV.

The Saturday cleanup was held in the Johnson Lane/Sunrise Pass Road area in Carson Valley and the Sunday cleanup was held in the Pine Nut Road area south of Gardnerville. Each day many truckloads of trash from dumpsites and shooting sites was gathered and disposed of.

NCOHV Grants Awarded

The Nevada Four Wheel Drive Association, for the past two years, has been actively involved in the “rebirth” of the Nevada Commission on Off-Highway Vehicles (NCOHV). We are pleased to present to you the following announcement from the NCOHV, which details the successful completion of the 1st grant cycle. There is enough money left undistributed in the grant fund to accommodate a 2nd grant cycle this year.

There were, if I am correct, a total of fourteen grant applications submitted using the grant guidelines. Several grant applications were dismissed out of hand because they clearly did not enhance OHV recreation in Nevada. Other applications were incomplete and the authors were invited to resubmit their grant applications with all of the information required by the grant guideline handbook. Finally, some grants were not approved because the organizations submitting them had asked for major amounts of money in the application, but had no “track record” to show the commission to support such an award. These applicants were advised to come back in the next grant cycle with a smaller project or equipment request and use this to establish this “track record”.

If your organization is recognized by the Nevada Secretary of State (you are not required to be a federal 501 (c) organization) and are interested in pursuing a OHV-related grant, please go to the NCOHV website, www.nvohv.com and download the grant application guide.

Larry

Click NEVADA COMMISSION ON OFF-HIGHWAY FIRST ROUND GRANTS ANNOUNCED 2016/1/19 to download the document.

Nevada Four Wheel Drive Association and Local 4×4 Clubs Clean Up El Dorado Canyon!

In this 25-minutes, see how much these volunteer four-wheelers value their trails and public lands. The clean-up began at 8 a.m. with a double-dumpster stop conclusion nearly twelve hours later! Two rusted motor vehicles and an abandoned projection screen television were among trash and human debris that filled a half-dozen trailers and pickup beds! El Dorado Canyon’s pristine, spring-fed creek feeds cottonwoods and other habitat at this high desert destination. Join the call to action!

Dog Valley Project – June 14th

Volunteers Needed – Saturday June 14th

Time once again for the 4×4 community to do even more good. This time, it’s the Dog Valley Meadow Barricade Project.

Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest, Hills Angels, Nevada 4 Wheel Drive Association, Reno4x4.com and many others are working together to install 1500 feet of barricade along the sensitive areas on the Dog Valley meadow forest service road. This is similar to the Dutch Louie Flat, Big Meadow, Dog Valley-Summit One barricades.

NV Energy has donated the power poles needed as well as many of the special tools, the forest service has paid for delivery and all the other materials needed. N4WDA has chipped in for food (still seeking more donations) and Hills Angels will be doing the cooking and site coordination.

PLEASE POST UP on Reno4x4.com if you are coming so we have some idea of crew sizes and food requirements.

From Verdi take Bridge Street to Dog Valley Grade, stay right at the summit and go down the hill into Dog Valley. At the bottom of the grade take the first right and go about a quarter of a mile.

Come on out and make a difference!

http://www.reno4x4.com/forum/showthread.php/77209-Dog-Valley-Project-June-14th

Reopening of Comment Period on the Bi-State DPS of the Greater Sage-Grouse – Public Meetings

On Tuesday, April 8th, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced in the Federal Register, the reopening of the Public Comment period for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (Bi-State DPS) of the Greater Sage Grouse, both for comment on the Proposed Listing as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, and on the Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat.

The Bi-State DPS includes 1.8 million acres of sagebrush steppe reaching from just south of Gardnerville, NV to the White Mountains, south of Bishop, CA.

The USFWS has listed recreation, especially OHV recreation, as an threat to this Critical Habitat.

N4WDA and the Blue Ribbon Coalition have contested this threat as being an assumption since no comprehensive study of OHV vs. Sage-Grouse has ever been completed. Additionally, no thorough study of the economic effect upon the community has ever been studied, yet there ihas been a determination of no major impact as a result of the critical habitat designation.

The US Government, through President Obama, has stated that only “good science” is to be used within the government agencies for such purposes. We contend that no science, good or bad, only supposition has been used in this listing and habitat designation.

At any rate, the USFWS will be holding two “Public Hearings” concerning the listing and habitat designation during the reopened comment period. These public hearing dates are as follows:

April 29th – Minden, NV @ the Carson Valley Inn from 6-9 PM

April 30th – Bishop, CA @ the Fairgrounds from 6-9 PM

If you can make either meeting, please attend and state your concerns. If you can’t make the meeting, please write a comment to the USFWS stating your concerns. Emailed comments may be made at: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072 for the Listing as Threatened or FWS-R8-ES-2013-0042 for the Designation of Critical Habitat.

For further information on the Bi-State DPS or the Northeastern CA/NV Greater Sage-Grouse listings (18 million acres), go to the N4WDA website www.n4wda.org and select Land Use. Read what we have learned and accomplished about this threat.

THIS IS THE GREATEST THREAT TO OHV RECREATION THAT WE HAVE EVER FACED!

Larry Calkins – President, N4WDA

Greater Sage-Grouse Bi-State Distinctive Population Segment Forest Plan Revision Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Attached is a copy of the Nevada Four Wheel Drive Association’s comment letter submitted for the Greater Sage-Grouse Bi-State Distinctive Population Segment (Bi-State DPS) Forest Plan Revision Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that was sent to the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF on January 7, 2014. This DEIS covered 8 counties in Nevada and California and totalled 1.8 million acres, stretching from Gardnerville, NV to south of Bishop, CA.

The last day to send comments on this DEIS is January 17, 2014.

Next up is the Nevada and Northeastern California Greater Sage-Grouse Draft Land Use Plan Amendment and Environmental Impact Statement. Comments are due to the Bureau of Land Management Nevada State Office by January 29th, 2014.

Strangely, the comment period for the US Fish and Wildlife Service notice of intent to list the Sage-Grouse as a “threatened” species has been moved out until February 10, 2014. The actual listing, if it happens, will not occur until 2015. As you can see by the above dates, the US Government is “business as usual” with the land agencies spending time and money planning for protection of a bird that is not listed and may never be….

Thanks,
Larry

DEIS_Comment_Letter

N4WDA submits comments on the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (BSDPS) of the Greater Sage-Grouse

As we have stated in our earlier articles, the listing by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) of the Greater Sage-Grouse as a “Threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) represents an enormous threat to access to the Public Lands.

The listing and subsequent designation as Critical Habitat affects public lands in ten western states totaling 47 million acres. In Nevada, approximately 17 million acres are to be designated. We expect, in the best case that this listing and designation will cause seasonal closures of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Forest Service (USFS) lands during the mating season, the worst case could result in permanent closures of this Critical Habitat. We expect that the Western Watershed Project (greens) will not be content with the listing as Threatened, but will continue to their goal of listing as an Endangered species which certainly would close this Critical Habitat permanently.

While the Critical Habitat designation only affects Public Lands and not private property, ranching, mineral exploration, alternative energy development and many other uses will be affected, both on public and private lands. The economic impact of this listing and designation is far-reaching and has not been comprehensively studied.

The joint BLM/USFS planning document for the management of these Nevada public lands is called the Draft Nevada and Northeastern California Subregional Greater Sage-Grouse Land Use Plan Amendment and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DLUP/DEIS).

In Western Nevada, the FWS set aside a portion of the California and Nevada Greater Sage-Grouse population and habitat affecting five Nevada counties and three California counties, designating it as the Bi-State Distinct Population of the Greater Sage-Grouse (DPS). The DPS identifies 1.8 million acres as Critical Habitat. The area runs from just south of Gardnerville and Dayton, NV in the Pine Nut Mountains, through the Sweetwater Mountains south of Wellington all the way to the White Mountains southeast of Bishop, California.

The final date to comment to the FWS on the listing and designation for the DPS is December 27, 2013.

The final date to comment on the joint BLM/USFS DEIS for the DPS which identifies the management of the public lands with regard to the FWS listing is January 25, 2014.

The final date to comment on the Nevada and Northeastern Nevada DLUP/EIS is January 29, 2014.

If you are interested in learning more and/or commenting on either the DPS or the BLM/USFS EIS, the following links will take you there.

The following is the comment letter submitted by N4WDA to FWS concerning the listing and designation:

November 22, 2013

Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2013-0042 and FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072
Division of Policy and Directives Management
US Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203

Dear Sirs,

The Nevada Four Wheel Drive Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the aims and goals of our membership whose recreational livelihood is dependent upon multiple uses of public lands.

We welcome the opportunity to submit these comments on their behalf:

• Recreation, especially OHV and trail riding recreation, has never been comprehensively studied yet recreation is listed as a threat in the rulemaking. The USFWS, although pledging to only use “good science” in its proposed listing, has used “no science” in declaring recreation a threat. Such a declaration, not based on scientific fact, strongly suggests an agenda with a predetermined outcome.

Until such a comprehensive study of the effects of recreation on the Sage-Grouse and its habitat is published, we will oppose these proposals.

• The head of the USFWS certified that the requirement to perform a regulatory flexibility analysis, as required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), was unnecessary because the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The USFWS deemed that only those entities directly regulated by the rulemaking (BLM and USFS) are subject to analysis, excluding private small businesses that may be affected, due to the agency’s interpretation of recent of the act and recent case law.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 require the agency make costs and benefits analysis and take into considerations impacts to both directly and indirectly impacted entities, including small businesses.

According to the briefing at the public meeting held in Wellington, NV, on November 6, 2013, Edward D. Koch, the Nevada State Supervisor, when queried, stated that this analysis has not been performed.

We feel that the head of the agency erred by suppressing the intent of the RFA and SBREFA in the determination and certification that the RFA requirement to evaluate the effect of this proposal on small businesses was unnecessary. The proposed critical habitat directly affects ranching, mineral exploration and other small businesses, such as those dependent upon recreation.

Without this analysis available to the public, it is impossible to determine total costs and benefits of this proposed Critical Habitat determination. Until this information is available and can be evaluated, we will oppose these proposals.

• USFWS performed poorly in providing information about the proposals to the public. The agency, with little notice (the Federal Register Intent to List as Threatened and the Proposal to Determine as Critical Habitat appeared in the Federal Register on November 1, 2013) the two meetings (in Bishop, CA on November 5th and Wellington, NV on November 6th) allowed no lead time for the public to arrange to attend. The Wellington, NV meeting could hardly be called worthy of being a Federal Agency meeting, obviously planned to expect a poor turnout due to the 1-3 PM meeting time on a workday. The meeting was organized to be a meet & greet format, with USFWS, BLM and USFS personnel available. We can only imagine the surprise of the agency when several hundred attendees appeared at their “stealth” meeting. Unfortunately, except for a few, the representatives wore no name tags, uniforms or insignia, therefore looking like the rest of the meeting attendees; most did not have business cards at their disposal. Initially there was no speaker system set up, resulting in shouted questions and answers when Mr. Koch finally took the stage. Additionally there were inadequate handouts, particularly maps, available.

Because of poor public notification for these proposals, and until further meetings are scheduled with reasonable lead times between notice and the meetings, we will oppose these proposals.

The listing of the Sage Grouse appears to be the first step to curtail grazing on public lands, and will very likely lead to additional burdensome government regulation of the American cattle ranching industry. The direction in which USFWS is proceeding seems to be similar to that which was used to nearly wipe out the timber industry in the northwest. The premise regarding the northern spotted owl as a separate species is false. Spotted owls are called stryx occidentalis, and they range from British Columbia to Mexico. They differ in their morphology (what they look like), and they interbreed where their “boundaries” coincide. The spotted owl has not become extinct, and in fact has survived in new forests as well as old growth forests.

Sincerely,
Larry Calkins
President

MEMBER ALERT: ENDANGERED SPECIES: FWS proposes listing for 1 sage grouse subpopulation

This is the biggest threat to our off road recreation that is looming. The Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC) says that the mitigation efforts that will be proposed to save the sage grouse habitat will impact both casual and permitted use of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and BLM Carson District Lands.

N4WDA will attend the FWS, Forest Service and BLM meetings and be involved in the opposition to the listing of this subpopulation.

The following is a well-written article from Greenwire.com that describes the threat.

Larry Calkins

ENDANGERED SPECIES: FWS proposes listing for 1 sage grouse subpopulation

Scott Streater, E&E reporter
Greenwire: Friday, October 25, 2013

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list as threatened a subpopulation of greater sage grouse found only in central California and southwest Nevada and to designate 1.8 million acres as critical habitat to help save the bird.
Today’s proposal involves a genetically unique population of grouse found only in the two states, commonly referred to as the “bi-state” or Mono Basin population. And it includes a special rule that Fish and Wildlife says will provide increased flexibility for land-management practices that are intended to benefit this distinct grouse population.
The bi-state population occurs at the westernmost periphery of the imperiled greater sage grouse’s 11-state range in a fragile area of sagebrush steppe that is particularly vulnerable to landscape disturbances. An estimated 5,000 bi-state grouse remain from a historic population that probably exceeded twice that number, according to Defenders of Wildlife.
The proposed listing comes as the service is evaluating whether to list the much larger greater sage grouse population as threatened or endangered.
An advance notice in today’s Federal Register says the bi-state population warrants listing as a threatened species mostly because of threats from invasive plant species and wildfires that destroy the sagebrush steppe habitat that the grouse depend upon for survival.
Other threats include expanded renewable energy development in both states, according to the advance notice, and urban development, mining and climate change.
A second advance notice states that the 1.8 million acres of critical habitat would encompass federal, state, tribal and private lands on four separate units in Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, Mineral and Esmeralda counties in Nevada, and in Alpine, Mono and Inyo counties in California.
While critical habitat designations do affect how public land is managed, this designation would not have any impact on private landowners or any uses of lands that do not require federal permitting or funding, according to the service.
Fish and Wildlife will formally post both notices in Monday’s Federal Register, kicking off a 60-day public comment period ending Dec. 27, said Jeannie Stafford, a service spokeswoman in Nevada.
“We applaud the combined efforts of our federal, state and local partners, as well as private landowners across the species’ range, to address the significant challenges faced by the bi-state [population] of greater sage grouse,” Ren Lohoefener, regional director of Fish and Wildlife’s Pacific Southwest Region, said today in a statement. “These efforts are essential to the recovery of the species. Today’s proposal, based on the best available science, should not deter us from continuing our work on behalf of the bi-state [population] and its important sage brush habitat.”
But today’s announcement concerns some industry and private property rights observers.
Among them is Kent Holsinger, a Denver natural resources attorney who has represented the energy and agricultural industry in litigation involving the Gunnison sage grouse.
Holsinger questioned the science of breaking up the larger greater sage grouse population into so-called distinct and genetically unique populations, like the bi-state population.
“Any two individuals are ‘genetically distinct,’ so I’m quite dubious about making management decisions that affect people’s livelihoods on such a basis,” he said in an email.
He also said a threatened listing often interferes with on-the-ground conservation work being done by private landowners and local governments. “That’s a theme that even FWS and other agencies have recognized in the past,” he said.
“Coupled with the critical habitat [proposed designation] and the FWS rulemaking that would emasculate the ability to consider economics in such decisions, and I’d label this bad news for California and Nevada,” he said.
But conservation leaders said the designation is long overdue.
Groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and Institute for Wildlife Protection have petitioned the agency over the past decade to list the bi-state grouse population.
“The sage grouse in the Mono Basin are truly imperiled, not only by the same habitat loss and degradation facing every other sage grouse population, but also by their small numbers and isolation in one of the most ecologically sensitive areas of sagebrush in the West,” said Mark Salvo, federal lands policy analyst for Defenders of Wildlife. “With only a few, scattered populations [of] sage grouse remaining in the Mono Basin, it’s important that the service moves forward to conserve the bi-state grouse.”
But a threatened listing does not mean the bird will be saved, Salvo added.
“While we applaud and support the service’s proposed listing of the Mono Basin sage grouse as threatened, it is premature to determine whether the proposed rule will in fact conserve the sage grouse, since the devil will be in the details of the local sage grouse conservation plans that the rule relies upon,” he said.

Eldorado NF 42 Trails SDEIS Appeal Decision

On June 17th, 2013, then Eldorado National Forest Supervisor, Kathryn Hardy issued her Record of Decision (ROD) on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS).  As posted on this website (June 17th), 42 trails in the Eldorado NF were closed due to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and others in Federal Court found that the Eldorado NF was negligent in its travel planning in relation to where trails cross wet meadows. Subsequently, all but 18 meadows were found to not be in conflict with S&G 100 (the regulation/specification concerning these wet meadows).

These trails include Deer Valley/Clover Valley, Barrett Lake, Strawberry Pass, Emigrant, and others that are used, because of their proximity to our present membership, very heavily.  This puts an awful burden on the Rubicon Trail as it is the viable alternate.

Supervisor Hardy selected Alternative 3 of the 4 alternatives proposed in the SDEIS, which left the remaining trails closed until mitigation efforts are concluded (on a trail-by-trail basis).  N4WDA supported Alternative 1, which left the trails open while mitigation efforts moved forward.

On July 26th, N4WDA sent a letter to the days NF appealing this decision appealing several points in the ROD.  These included:

  • An alternative 5 was studied which was never made available to those who commented on the SDEIS.
  • The Deer Valley/Clover Valley trail was listed as medium in recreational value, whereas, it is probably the most used trail in the Eldorado NF.
  • The ROD mentioned the need to study the impact of the Yellow-Legged Frog and the Yosemite Toad as to whether their habitats might be an issue in the reopening of these trails (another issue not discussed in the SDEIS).

On August 7th, a meeting of the appellants was held at the Eldorado NF Headquarters in Placerville, CA.  Don Spuhler, N4WDA Secretary was in attendance.  Of the appellants, 10 were OHV-oriented, either representing groups or themselves; several were known preservationists; several county governments were included; and the remainder were of unknown sympathy.

On August 8th, the new Eldorado NF Supervisor, Laurence Crabtree, issued an Informal Disposition Agreement which all of the appellants were asked to sign, thereby removing the appeals.  This agreement varied greatly from the discussion at the Placerville meeting, obviously being influenced by the Forest Service lawyers in their desire to keep things from returning to court.

Over the next 45 days this agreement was amended several times, but never addressed our primary goals.  N4WDA asked for the following to be added to the agreement:

  • A drop-dead date for the completion of the mitigation efforts for each trail.  If this date was not met, the trail would reopen while the mitigation efforts continued.
  • The Forest Service would meet with interested appellants at the site of the alleged violation of S&G 100 to explain the hydrologists report and to discuss whether volunteer labor from our OHV organizations might be utilized to save time and money and to convince us to support grant applications for mitigation funds.
  • Remove a requirement that each of the 42 trails be evaluated twice yearly to determine if environmental damage has been occurring.

Of our three suggestions, the only concession was that after the mitigation efforts were designed, “where appropriate, corrective actions will be implemented with the help of the OHV community, the Environmental community and other volunteers under the direction of the Forest Service”.

As time ran out for the appeal, many emails were traded among the OHV community, and, it became readily apparent that if we did not sign off on the appeals, it would only further delay the reopening of the trails.

A subsequent email from the Eldorado NF verified that all appellants had signed off on the agreement.

All in all, a very small win for the OHV community, but a very large opportunity to have learned about the process.

We can now presume that these trails will reopen, one at a time, in at least three more years and, if funding is a problem, longer than that…..

Larry Calkins

New Wilderness in Lyon County

About a year ago, we attended a fund-raiser reception for Senator Dean Heller at the Peppermill Hotel Casino in Reno, NV. Among the attendees were representatives of the various OHV user groups such as Blue Ribbon Coalition, the Trail Pac, several land use advocates and motorcycle groups.

Senator Heller spoke about his background, including the fact that his father owned a Jeep and that the family had many enjoyable outings in that vehicle.  He told of his absolute commitment to multiple use of public lands.

However, further in his speech, he told us about the need to convey a parcel of BLM administered land to the City of Yerington so that it could be used for infrastructure to support the Pumpkin Hollow Copper Mine.  When this mine is in full operation, it will employ about 100 workers at an average wage of $70,000 dollars per year.  Since Lyon County has been severely victimized by the current economic downturn (recession), these jobs are desperately needed.  At that time, he said that he feared that Senator Harry Reid would demand creation of a Wilderness Area in exchange for supporting a bill conveying this land.

On Monday, June 17, the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee heard S. 159 by Senators Heller and Reid which supported the land exchange and designated 48,000 acres as the Wovoka Wilderness, mostly in the southern Pine Nut and Sweetwater mountain ranges.

For years, Lyon County residents, user groups and other land use advocates overwhelmingly opposed the creation of Wilderness in this area.  The Lyon County Board of Supervisors even passed a resolution that there would be no further Wilderness in Lyon County.  Subsequently, because of the need for the land conveyance and the jobs issue, the Lyon County Supervisors had to retract their resolution.

Also considered was the House of Representatives bill by Representative Steven Horsford and supported by Representatives Joe Heck and Mark Amodei which is the companion bill to S. 159.

Harry Reid, in his usual underhanded way, is holding this important land transfer for RANSOM.

At this time N4WDA is awaiting maps showing the boundaries of this Wilderness area.

Therefore, although N4WDA is fundamentally opposed to the creation of designated Wilderness areas, we are taking a wait and see position until the entire impact of this bill is understood.

Larry Calkins, President N4WDA