McCarthy backs public land use

This week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced support for a letter by Natural Resources Committee Federal Lands Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Acting Director Brian Steed requesting new policy and guidelines for state and field offices to implement independent monitoring programs (IMP) at competitive off-highway vehicle events on federal land to avoid triggering cost recovery.

“In California, we are blessed to have access to some of the most awe-inspiring public lands on the planet, and many communities, such as those in eastern Kern County, rely on access to public lands for OHV tourism and recreation,” said McCarthy.

“Americans should be free to utilize our public lands freely and fairly, while abiding with all regulations.

“Unfortunately, BLM’s current cost-recovery policy denies many small and medium-sized OHV groups from being able to fully enjoy or to hold competitive events on BLM land because of exorbitant fees.

“An IMP would allow outside groups to partner with state and local BLM offices to provide trained volunteers who would be responsible for certain BLM staff monitoring activities at OHV events, all with the goal of preventing cost recovery from triggering.

“Such a change would be a win-win for our community — it would expand access for OHV users while bringing more tourists to stimulate our local economy.

“It would also ensure that BLM regulations are met, all without increasing costs for OHV event sponsors or the BLM.

“I remain committed to ensuring access to our public lands, and it is my every hope that the Trump administration and Acting Director Steed will heed the call to promote OHV recreation through innovative public-private partnerships by developing an IMP.”

“I am grateful to see Congress address the need for an independent monitoring program,” said Fred Wiley, president of the Off-Road Business Association.

“Such policy would work to ensure that small, nonprofit clubs such as the Off Road Business Association can continue to recreate on our public lands without being hindered by burdensome permitting costs. I am hopeful that the BLM will understand the importance of making this necessary change.”

“For groups like the American Motorcycle Association to continue to thrive, it is absolutely critical that the BLM reduce the cost burden on nonprofit clubs to host events on public lands,” said Jerry Grabow of the American Motorcycle Association.

He said he “will be looking forward to hearing the BLM’s response.”

BLM issues special recreation permits to groups and individuals to special purposes, such as competitive OHV events. If a SPR requires more than 50 hours of BLM staff, cost recovery is triggered, significantly increasing costs to event sponsors.

An IMP would allow outside organizations to partner with BLM to train volunteers to take over certain, non-law-enforcement BLM staff monitoring activities at SRP events to avoid cost recovery.

Story First Published: 2018-07-27