Glamis Re-Opened + New Land Closure Proposal.

Sean Alexander
by Sean Alexander
After reading the latest press releases from the AMA, I've got some good news and some bad news. Because I'm undisciplined, I'll give you the good news first...

*PRESS RELEASE #1* Federal Agency Gives Green Light to Reopen Glamis

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an opinion that clears the way for the reopening of more than 49,000 acres of southern California desert closed several years ago to off-highway vehicle use, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.


In short, the federal agency said that the BLM's plan to allow OHV use of the land doesn't pose a risk to threatened and endangered species there, and that monitoring of the species should be done.

The reopening would partially reverse a closure enacted by the federal Bureau of Land Management in late 2000 that affected 49,305 acres in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, known to OHV enthusiasts as Glamis because of its proximity to that city in far southern California. The closure was part of an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit filed by anti-access groups that alleged the BLM failed to properly consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the effects of the BLM-administered California Desert Conservation Area Plan on a number of threatened and endangered species.

The BLM's Draft Recreation Area Management Plan for the Glamis area could be finalized as early as mid-summer, which would reopen riding areas.

As part of the out-of-court settlement, the BLM agreed to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service. As a result of that consultation and research, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued an opinion this month that states allowing OHV use "is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of (the threatened) Peirson's milk-vetch" plant, and the desert tortoise.

The federal agency calls for monitoring the plant and tortoise populations to ensure they remain healthy.

Last year, the BLM released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Recreation Area Management Plan for the Imperial Sand Dues Recreation Area that would reopen about 16,000 acres of the Glamis area to unrestricted OHV use. In addition, more than 33,000 acres would be reopened to limited use, with a restriction on the number of riders allowed. A maximum of 525 vehicles would be allowed each day in that area for a year while the BLM monitors the impacts on plants and animals. Changes would then be made on OHV use of the parcel, if necessary.

"This is a significant development for all the OHV enthusiasts who ride at Glamis," said AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris. "Under the terms of the California Desert Conservation Area Plan, open motorized recreation was restricted to less than 2 percent of the California Desert. With this closure, even that tiny amount was in danger of disappearing."

Glamis is an extremely popular recreation area for motorcyclists, ATV riders, four-wheel-drive vehicle enthusiasts and others. The BLM reports an estimated 100,000 people use the dunes some holiday weekends. The area is about 40 miles long, five miles wide, and has dunes that rise 300 feet above the valley floor.

The AMA "Save Our Trails" Fund, which ended this month, paid out more than $50,000 to AMA District 37 for legal expenses in the District's battle to protect off-highway riding areas in California.

When the program began a year ago, the AMA pledged to match contributions dollar for dollar, up to $50,000. District 37 played an important role in the fight to reopen Glamis.

The American Motorcyclist Association is a nonprofit organization with more than 250,000 members. Established in 1924, the Association's purpose is to pursue, protect and promote the interests of motorcyclists, while serving the needs of its members. For more information, visit the AMA website at www.amadirectlink.com




*PRESS RELEASE #2* AMA BATTLING PROPOSED LAND CLOSURES IN TEXAS

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association held a "Ride Into Political Action" seminar in Austin, Texas, on April 12 as part of its effort to fight efforts to close riverbeds to off-highway vehicles.

Currently there are three bills in the Texas Legislature that would ban motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and other off-highway vehicles from riverbeds and banks, with certain exceptions. Those exceptions are for riverfront property owners, who should still be allowed to use the property. Under current law, access to those riverbeds is guaranteed.

Activist Joel Wolfson, a member of the AMA Community Council-Panhandle, presented state lawmakers with more than 5,000 letters from concerned citizens opposing the proposed closure. AMA member Carol Smith, another community council activist, has been fighting the proposal and notes that 97 percent of the land in Texas is private, meaning only 3 percent is public.

"I, for one, think that 97 percent private property is enough," Smith said. "More than enough. I think we should leave these public lands open to the public."

The AMA not only held a "Ride into Political Action" seminar to teach riders how to fight this battle, but also is urging AMA members in the state to contact their lawmakers, and is contacting lawmakers itself. "A lot of these riverbeds have dried-up areas that off-road riders love to use," said Royce Wood, AMA legislative affairs specialist.

"Rather than a blanket ban, we would like to see state officials work with the off-highway vehicle community to determine which riverbeds should be protected, and which can remain open for OHV use," he said.

Texas OHV enthusiasts should write to their state lawmakers to oppose this legislation, and to let them know that they don't want to lose access to public land without replacement riding areas.

Concerned Texas citizens can go to AMA Rapid Response Center at the AMA's Website to send a message to their lawmakers. The site also helps those who use it find the names of their lawmakers.

The American Motorcyclist Association is a nonprofit organization with more than 250,000 members. Established in 1924, the Association's purpose is to pursue, protect and promote the interests of motorcyclists, while serving the needs of its members.



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Sean Alexander
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