CORVA LAND USE REPORT
by Bruce Whitcher, VP Land Resources and Public Policy
S 414, Senator Feinstein’s Desert Protection and Recreation Act, was heard in Senate Natural Resources Committee on October 8, 2015. This is likely to slow efforts by the Obama administration to designate national monuments in the area which would not provide protection to OHV areas.
Companion legislation has been introduced by Representative Cook and is also scheduled for hearing on December 9th.
If both bills pass out of committee they will need to go to consensus conference and then to the President for signature.
We have reported on the provisions of S 414 in past issues of the ORIA.
California Desert Conservation & Recreation Act S 414 (Feinstein) — summary:
Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas - designates five OHV Recreation Areas totaling about 142,000 acres. This would provide congressionally designated areas for this popular recreational activity in the California Desert including the Dumont Dunes, El Mirage, Rasor, Spangler Hills, and Stoddard Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas. The Johnson Valley OHV and Shared Use Areas would remain as previously designated by a different act of Congress. There is a requirement for additional management planning activities for the five OHV areas.
Establishes two new national monuments, the Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow National Monuments
Creates three new wilderness areas and expands three existing Wilderness Areas, areas known as North Eureka Valley, Ibex, Panamint Valley, Warm Springs, and Axe Head (about 47,580 acres in total) and the Bowling Alley.
Designates additional small wilderness areas within Death Valley National Park Releases portions of six Wilderness Study Areas.
Establishes the Vinagre Wash Special Management Area and Alabama Hills National Scenic Area;
Designates relatively small potential wilderness areas.
Expands three units of the National Park System; Death Valley, the Mojave Preserve and Joshua Tree.
Within Death Valley National Park, the Adds segments of five rivers to the National Wild and Scenic River System.
Title II – Development of Renewable Energy on Public Lands - establishes a new process for disposition of revenues received for the development of wind or solar energy on BLM-administered lands throughout the West.
California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act, HR 3668 (Cook) — summary:
Title I: National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas
Designates six existing off-highway vehicle areas as “National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas.” These are Johnson Valley, Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes, and Stoddard Valley. Three of these OHV areas would be expanded by a total of roughly 61,000 acres. The six OHV areas total just over 300,000 acres.
Title II: Wilderness
Designates approximately 342,000 acres as wilderness. Existing roads and trails within the wilderness are preserved through cherry-stems to maintain public access. Releases approximately 154,000 acres of existing wilderness study areas for recreational and economic use.
Title III: National Park System Expansions
Adds approximately 68,000 acres of land to the National Park System, including Death Valley, the Mojave National Preserve, and Joshua Tree.
Title IV: Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers
Title IV designates 77 miles of wild, scenic, and recreational rivers. Three of these are in the San Bernardino Mountains: Deep Creek, Holcomb Creek, and Whitewater, while the other two are in Inyo County: Amargosa River and Surprise Canyon. These designations will maintain all current legal off-highway vehicle use.
Title VI: Mojave Trails Special Management Area
Title VI designates a “special management area” covering approximately 965,000 acres in the Mojave Desert northeast of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. Additionally, it designates approximately 1,400 miles worth of roads and trails for OHV use.
Title VII: Sand to Snow National Monument
Title VII establishes a national monument covering approximately 140,000 acres of federal land between Joshua Tree National Park and the San Bernardino National Forest in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Currently, nearly all of this land is designated as part of the San Gorgonio Wilderness or part of the Big Morongo Canyon Reserve. It protects hunting, hiking, and the use of off-highway vehicles on designated trails within the Monument.