Last week, the Secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, visited Moab. USA-ALL has representation at that meeting. Below is a quick report on what happened. We want to thank Dave Cozzens for representing us there and to Jeramey McElhaney for his write up on the meeting.

Jeramy’s report:

On Wednesday, September 28th Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar visited Moab for the purpose of looking at a proposed wilderness area, MillCreek Canyon, and to receive public input regarding conservation and jobs created through outdoor recreation.  The meeting was held at the Moab Adventure Center, beginning at about 4:30 pm with about 100 people in attendance.

Secretary Salazar gave a few brief remarks on the importance of conservation, and gave a couple of models showing how different communities have grown their economies with outdoor recreation created jobs. He also spoke of his visit to Vernal, Utah earlier in the day and his self-proclaimed pro-drilling stance.

The pro-access group easily outnumbered the environmentalists; I would say by nearly a 2:1 ratio, and as such our comments/questions came up more frequently. Most of the questions had to do with recent road closures in our area by the Forest Service, BLM, and the National Park Service. To some extent, Secretary Salazar agreed with every one of the questions dealing with restricted access.

He also received a few questions from the environmentalist side, and miraculously, the Secretary agreed with all of their questions except for one.  A question was brought up asking if the Secretary would ask President Obama to Pardon Tim DeChristopher, and if not, why.  Secretary Salazar said, without hesitation, “No, I would not, because I believe in the rule of law in this country…” This produced applause from the group, but basically nothing new was introduced at the meeting.

Essentially, it was a lesson in political speaking, and nothing more. While appearing to agree with everyone, Secretary Salazar still has his own agenda, and he will continue to try to implement it. A person’s actions show their true intent much more than a person’s words. Remember the ‘Wild Lands’ issue brought up last year? This was a Secretarial Order: meaning Secretary Salazar made this policy, not President Obama. This was an over-reach of the Executive branch’s authority, without Congressional approval. Only the Congress has the authority to create wilderness in this country, and that is why the Wild Lands issue was not funded in the current Federal Budget.

We must stay ever vigilant to ensure the continued use of our public lands, and hopefully gain back some of the miles and acres that have been lost to us in the last few years.

Yours in the Fight,

Jeramey McElhaney

Bio: Jeramey is the former President of the Red Rock 4-wheelers, serving from 2005-2007. He served during the implementation of the current resource management plan. Jeramey has been active in the 4-wheel drive community since 1996, and continues his efforts to both keep trails open and look for new trails. Jeramey lives in Moab, Utah.

You can also read the AP article and watch a quick news report on Salazar’s visit by clicking this link: http://www.fox13now.com/news/kstu-salazar-in-moab-interior-secretary-ken-salazar-visits-utah-20110928,0,3701748.story

The Utah Shared Access Alliance passed along a note regarding a meeting in Moab, Utah, today, regarding job creation and off-highway access:

MOAB, Utah-On Wednesday, Sept. 28, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will join Moab community leaders and outdoor recreation stakeholders for a conversation on the importance of conservation and outdoor recreation in creating jobs and building strong local economies across America.   During the visit, the Secretary will hear about locally-driven conservation initiatives taking place on public lands in Utah and learn how the Department can better support them. Prior to the discussion, Salazar will visit the Mill Creek Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA) to learn firsthand about recommendations to preserve unique recreational and wilderness values of certain areas, such as Mill Creek, through potential Congressional action.

In June, Secretary Salazar directed Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes to solicit input from members of Congress, state and local officials, tribes and federal land managers to identify lands that may be appropriate candidates for Congressional protection under the Wilderness Act.  Hayes will deliver a report to the Secretary and Congress regarding those areas that the Department believes can be the basis for a bipartisan wilderness agenda that can be enacted in the 112th Congress.

WHO: Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior                        Jeffrey “Rock” Smith, Bureau of Land Management Regional Office Manager

WHAT: Conversation about Outdoor Recreation, Conservation, and Job Creation

WHEN: Wednesday, September 28, 2011                        4:30 p.m. MDT

Conversation about Outdoor Recreation, Conservation, and Job Creation

WHERE: Location:  Moab Adventure Center225 South Main StreetMoab, UT 84532

On July 19, 2011, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a press release announcing that it will solicit recommendations from “state and local elected officials, Tribes, and other federal land managers on areas that deserve wilderness protection and that have broad support for congressional designation.”

In a previous June 10, 2011 American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) alert, the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also announced in a letter that he will solicit recommendations from members of Congress about potential new Wilderness designations in their states and district, which will then be submitted to Congress by October 15 for consideration. This announcement comes on the heels of the Secretary’s June 1 memorandum directing the federal BLM Director Robert Abbey to not designate any lands as “Wild Lands.” This memorandum reverses Secretarial Order 3310, hereon referred to as the “Order.”

Secretary Salazar’s Order, issued December 22, 2010, would have created a new land-use designation that essentially would have allowed BLM to manage public land as if it had received a “Wilderness” land-use designation from Congress, but without requiring congressional approval. This new policy, if remained in place, would have restricted responsible off-highway vehicle (OHV) riding in the affected areas.

Secretary Salazar cited the passage of H.R. 1473, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, which includes a provision (Section 1769) that prohibits the use of appropriated funds to implement, administer, or enforce the Order in Fiscal Year 2011 as his reason to reverse this policy.

A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of non-pedestrian recreation are illegal. The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by Congress in 1964, but anti-access advocates have been abusing the legislative process to ban responsible motorized recreation on public land.

Federal and state lawmakers called the “Wild Lands” policy a “land grab” and a blatant attempt to usurp congressional authority. The AMA sent a letter, dated January 11, 2011, to Secretary Salazar asking him to explain whether the new “Wild Lands” land-use designation will block traditional routes of travel for off-highway riding. To view the letter, click here. To view the BLMs response, click here.

The reversal of the Order is a major victory for responsible OHV riders and others concerned about appropriate access to public land. Anti-access groups will continue to push for legislation to inappropriately close off millions of acres of public land to OHVs. Not only are BLM lands under attack by these groups, but U.S. Forest Service land as well. Therefore, the riding community must remain vigilant. To thank the Secretary for his decision to reverse the Order, click here.

The AMA needs its members and others to send a message to their state lawmakers that all Wilderness proposals submitted to the BLM and ultimately to the Secretary meet the criteria established by Congress in the Wilderness Act of 1964. You can follow the “Take Action” option to send a pre-written e-mail directly to your state lawmakers.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio – In a victory for off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders nationwide, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has reversed his position on his controversial new Wild Lands policy, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

In an announcement made June 1, Salazar said the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wouldn’t designate any Wild Lands, which would have been managed as if they had received the restrictive Wilderness land-use designation from Congress.

Instead, Salazar said the BLM, which is a part of the Interior Department, will work in collaboration with members of Congress and others to identify public land that may be appropriate candidates for congressional protection under the Wilderness Act.

“We will focus our effort on building consensus around locally supported initiatives and working with members [of Congress] to advance their priorities for Wilderness designations in their states and districts,” he said.

Rob Dingman, AMA president and CEO, said he was pleased by the news but cautioned that OHV riders must remain on guard.

“This is a major victory for motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders and others concerned about appropriate access to public land,” Dingman said. “But we must remain vigilant. Anti-access groups will continue pushing for legislation to inappropriately close off millions of acres of public land to OHVs. Not only are BLM lands under attack by these groups, but U.S. Forest Service land as well.

“I want to thank all the AMA members and others who attended meetings and contacted their federal lawmakers to oppose the Wild Lands policy,” he added. “Your voices helped put pressure on Secretary Salazar to convince him to abandon his ill-conceived Wild Lands policy.”

In December, the AMA and OHV enthusiasts won an important battle for responsible riding on public land when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dropped his effort to pass a massive omnibus public lands bill that would have inappropriately designated millions of acres of public land as Wilderness, barring OHVs.

But then just days later, on Dec. 22, Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3310 creating the Wild Lands land-use designation that essentially allowed BLM officials to manage public land as if it had received a Wilderness designation from Congress, but without requiring congressional approval. This new policy was widely expected to restrict or eliminate responsible OHV use in the affected areas, and was seen to be orchestrated by anti-access groups to pull an end-run around Congress.

It also was expected to have a far-reaching impact because the BLM manages about 245 million acres of public land nationwide, primarily in 12 western states.

Federal lawmakers have considered the Wild Lands policy a “land grab” and a blatant attempt to usurp congressional authority. Off-highway riders sporting “Stop the Land Grab” stickers produced by the AMA and distributed by the Utah Shared Access Alliance (USA-ALL) turned out in droves for a meeting of Utah’s Governor’s Council on Balanced Resources that featured BLM Director Bob Abbey trying to explain the new policy.

Several governors were very vocal in their opposition to the Wild Lands policy as well, including Wyoming’s Matthew Mead, Idaho’s C.L. “Butch” Otter and Utah’s Gary Herbert.

Because of opposition from powerful federal lawmakers, governors, the AMA and other OHV enthusiasts, the Wild Lands policy hit a major snag on April 15.

That’s when President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution — the funding measure that keeps the federal government operating through Sept. 30 – that included language barring the Interior Department from using any money to implement the Wild Lands land-use policy to manage land as if it had been designated as Wilderness.

A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of non-pedestrian recreation are illegal. The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by Congress in 1964, but anti-access advocates have been abusing the legislative process to ban responsible OHV recreation on public land.