As OHV enthusiasts prepare public comments due April 8 for the Eldorado National Forest SEIS, long time recreation advocates have reacted to the latest development in this almost never-ending travel planning and litigation saga.

“We hope the Eldorado is finally moving toward defensible authorization of historical access on these treasured high elevation trails,” said Don Amador, BlueRibbon Coalition Western Representative.  Pro-recreation intervenors including the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, California Enduro Riders Association, American Motorcyclist Association District 36, and BlueRibbon Coalition have participated in all aspects of the planning process and earlier litigation starting back in 2002.

The groups were generally pleased with the May, 2011 decision of the federal court for the Eastern District of California that rejected the majority of challenges brought against the Forest by preservationist groups lead by the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation.

Editor’s Note: The BlueRibbon Coalition is pushing the fight against closure to off-highway access in Utah. Read below for more information and what you can do to get involved.

Dear BRC Members and supporters,

We just uploaded a webpage with important information and updates requested by our members and supporters concerning a request made by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and 113 outdoor retailers asking President Obama to designate a massive 1.4 million acre National Monument in southeastern Utah. See BRC’s previous blast here. Read OIA’s request here.

LAS VEGAS, NV — The BlueRibbon Coalition is proud to announce the results of the recent BRC Board of Directors Election, which saw the re-election or election of four candidates to positions on the BRC Board of Directors.

Re-elected to the BRC Board of Directors is Joni Mogstad, who currently serves as our President. The three new candidates elected to the board are Chad Booth, Kevin Carey and Dan Thomas. The BlueRibbon Coalition would like everyone to join them in welcoming these fine new board members. Each of them brings a number of outstanding assets to the recreational access table, and we look forward to working with them as they assume their new positions at the onset of 2013.

The BlueRibbon Coalition sent over this information on the AHV Trail Project on Coconino National Forest:

The Coconino National Forest’s Flagstaff Ranger District has completed the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Kelly Motorized Trail project, and is seeking public input. The project will designate existing trails, as well as construct new trails and facilities for off-highway vehicles (OHVs).

BRC members may remember that this Forest closed nearly all single track and ATV trails via a forest-wide route planning effort completed early in 2012. This project is one of several that seeks to address the lack of riding opportunity in one of the largest Forests in Arizona.

POCATELLO, ID — The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) today strongly criticized a U.S. Forest Service proposal to exempt major ground disturbing activities from environmental analysis and public comment.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) today began accepting public comment on a proposed change in regulations that would allow certain activities, including road obliteration, to be exempt from any public comment or analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The proposed rule would allow the agency to bypass normal environmental review for projects that remove, replace or modify water control structures and remove debris and sediment after natural or human-caused events including floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. The rule would also exempt road decommissioning efforts such, as stabilizing slopes, restoring vegetation, blocking the entrance to the road, installing waterbars and removing culverts.

BOISE, ID – The OHV community joins together today in mourning the loss of one of its greatest activists. On Thursday, April 5th, 2012, Adena Cook–one of the original founders of the BlueRibbon Coalition–passed away.

Adena will be sorely missed, both by those that knew her, and by the recreation community to whom she gave so much. She will forever be in our hearts and thoughts, and her legacy of dedication, perseverance and determination will live on.

Ms. Cook was amongst those that aided founder, Clark Collins, in turning the Idaho Public Land User’s Association into a national organization, re-titled the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC). She served as the newly created group’s volunteer secretary until 1989, at which point she became the group’s first Public Lands Director, and the second paid staff member.

POMONA, CALIF. – The 2011 Lucas Oil Off-Road Expo powered by General Tire will invade the Pomona Fairplex Saturday, October 8 through Sunday, October 9, with BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) as the official event charity.  Advance tickets purchased with the special promotion code BRC2011 at www.offroadexpo.com will net $1.00 for every ticket sold to BRC.

This year’s expo is supporting the national grassroots efforts of the BlueRibbon Coalition by featuring the many successes and fundamental mission of BRC.  “We are pleased to have BlueRibbon Coalition as our official charity for 2011,” said Mike Moore, President of Family Events, the company that produces Off Road Expo. “Their dedication to preserving trails for all types of recreational usage is important to the entire off-road community so to assist in the fundraising efforts, one dollar from each 2011 Lucas Oil Off-Road Expo ticket purchased at www.offroadexpo.com with promotion code BRC2011, will be donated to the BlueRibbon Coalition. In addition, any online ticket buyer will have the opportunity to make further donations to the coalition during the ticket purchase process for any amount they choose.”

Expo 2011 has everything off-road including new vehicles, thousands of parts and accessories, ATV test rides, freestyle motocross action, movie premieres, RC Racing and more – all part of the BRC mission of saving trails and keeping outdoor sports alive and well. With more than 350 exhibitors showcasing all the latest off-road toys, technologies, parts, gear and accessories, the 2011 Lucas Off-Road Expo powered by General Tire promises to be one of the biggest shows yet

Additionally, on Sunday October 9th at 11am, BlueRibbon’s own Del and Stacie Albright will host a one-of-a-kind Team Challenge for the Best Prepared Trail Rig with several teams competing in a fun challenge like a scavenger hunt on their vehicle in front of a live audience.  The Team Challenge is open to the public.  “Grab some buds; make up a team; stuff your rig and win some incredible prizes,” adds Del Albright, BlueRibbon Ambassador.   Team Challenge application available online here: http://www.sharetrails.org/off-road-expo/

BlueRibbon Coalition is proud to be featured at the 2011 Lucas Oil Off-Road Expo, and to be partnered with so many fine off-road businesses.

WASHINGTON, DC (June 22) — A spokesman for the BlueRibbon Coalition, a national trail-based recreation group, is testifying today at a hearing held by the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. The hearing will be at the 1324 Longworth House Office Building at 10 a.m.

In 2002, Dirt Rider Magazine listed the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) as one of the top 10 OHV recreation sites in the country. This popular off-road area was closed by an emergency closure order issued by the Bureau of Land Management in May of 2008. The unit remains closed to all publics. While the closure only “technically” closed 33,000 acres, it functionally closed 75,000 acres, since practically all route networks originate in the closure area.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, “I believe the Hollister Field Office, with the Environmental Protection Agency as an accomplice, has failed to fulfill its congressional multiple-use mandate via its current effort to use junk science and personal agendas in an ongoing scheme to close public lands and create de facto Wilderness at CCMA without Congressional approval or direction.”

“I believe that Congress must intervene and help the public get answers to the many unanswered questions regarding the bizarre and historic closure of CCMA to all human uses and the ongoing decision-making process surrounding the May 2008 emergency closure,” Amador concludes.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona has reversed an unwritten policy and is now allowing street-legal motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on certain roads, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

After being alerted by AMA member Keith Dishong that street-legal motorcycles were barred from three public access roads while trucks and other street-legal vehicles were allowed, AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris and Brian Hawthorne of the BlueRibbon Coalition contacted officials at the refuge, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Haris noted that the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan allows street-legal vehicles to use three access roads, so there was no reason to bar street-legal motorcycles and ATVs from those routes.

After investigating, refuge officials agreed.

The officials announced on May 18 that street-legal motorcycles and ATVs are now allowed on three public access roads: the El Camino del Diablo, Christmas Pass and Charlie Bell roads, which are outside designated Wilderness areas. No other roads or trails in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge are open to motorized use.

“This action does not open the refuge to unrestricted off-road vehicle activity,” refuge officials said in a news release. “Only the three public access roads already open to 4×4 vehicles are open to street-legal motorcycles and ATVs. These vehicles must abide by the same rules and restrictions as all other vehicles that access the refuge.

“Furthermore, permits for accessing these roads are required,” the officials said. “To reduce impact of large caravans, an additional special use permit is required for a party size of five or more vehicles traveling together or traveling in smaller groups but part of a larger organized event. This applies to all vehicles, including motorcycles and ATVs.”

Street-legal motorcycles and ATVs must run a mast displaying an orange flag at least 8 feet above the ground.

As part of ongoing efforts to recover endangered Sonoran pronghorn, seasonal road closures are in effect at the refuge through July 15.

Haris praised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for reversing its policy that barred street-legal motorcycles and ATVs, and urged all appreciative motorcyclists and ATV riders to send notes of thanks to: Manager Sid Slone, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge,1611 North Second Ave, Ajo, AZ 85321 or send an email to Sid_Sloane@fws.gov.

“Land managers at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge were responsive to our inquiries, and forthright in evaluating their existing policy banning street legal motorcycles and ATVs,” Haris said. “Motorcyclists everywhere can appreciate their efforts.”

The 1,000-square-mile Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge shares a 56-mile border with Sonora, Mexico. Almost all of the refuge is designated as Wilderness, which bars motorized recreation. The refuge features rugged mountain ranges, sand dunes and hardened lava flows.

OAKLEY, CA (May 23) – A national trail-based recreation group continues its strong opposition to a proposed military base expansion into a popular OHV recreation area in Southern California.  The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) submitted comments on May 19, 2011, that are directed to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 29 Palms Training Land Acquisition/Airspace Establishment Study.

BRC believes all of the action alternatives (1-6) are basically “closure of Johnson Valley OHV area” alternatives. The action alternatives would practically or functionally close the entire 180 thousand acre Johnson Valley OHV area to public use.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, “BRC has reviewed the Draft EIS and continues in our strong opposition to the entire project including the proposed withdrawal. BRC believes the EIS is fatally flawed and is not in compliance with NEPA.”

Amador continues, “BRC believes the Corps has failed to meaningfully explain the ‘need’ in the purpose and need section.  Aside from not identifying the proper basis for an increased training land-base, the purpose and need statement blithely ignores any discussion of the balance necessitated by any project of this nature. BRC believes the EIS/project should be withdrawn and shelved given its fatal flaws, public objection to the project, and national economic crisis.”

BRC continues to encourage its members to submit public comments by the May 26, 2011, deadline.

Link to BRC comment letter