ARRA Washington Newsletter - December 2010

Lame Duck... Limping Along
As we predicted, not much has happened thus far in the Lame Duck session.  We still believe that a compromise will be reached on the expiring tax cuts and funding the operations of the federal government.   Beyond what would be called "cats and dogs" minor legislation, not much else will be accomplished.  What is really on everyone's mind is the agenda of the new Congress when the Republicans take control of the House in January.

Omnibus Public Lands Legislation
One new threat that started brewing was the notion that the Senate should attempt to pass another omnibus public lands bill.  Ten Democratic Senators wrote to Majority Leader Reid making the case that now was the time to act on such a bill.  They then followed-up their letter with a meeting with Senator Reid where they pressed their case even further.

ARRA sent out a special alert to our members asking you to contact your Senators urging them to oppose any legislative effort this late in the session.  If you haven't already done so, click the link below to locate the alert for further information.

America's Great Outdoors Initiative
Back in April when President Obama established the AGO initiative, he instructed that recommendations coming out of the process be on his desk by November 15th.   Well, that didn't happen and the President is still waiting.

Read more about ARRA's efforts to provide more transparancy to this process...

Forest Service Planning Rule
We have kept you apprised of all the developments surrounding the Forest Service Planning Rule from the very first day when the Notice of Intent was printed in the Federal Register. As we previously reported, recreation was barely mentioned as a priority of the agency.  ARRA members have been very active in expressing their collective concern about this major oversight and we are most appreciative of your efforts.

Read more and see the Congressional letter to Chief Tidwell...

It's hard to believe that the New Year is almost upon us.  2010 has certainly been a year of challenges and of changes.  Challenges like the Forest Service Planning Rule process and the AGO Initiative.  And changes like the result of the 2010 elections.

One thing I learned from this year's electoral process is the sheer audacity of attempting the ridiculous despite overwhelming odds.  I am referring to the Tea Party movement.  Only in America could a loosely connected group of people, common citizens actually, come together outside of the traditional two party-system and make a real impact on the outcome of the elections.

Initially, both political parties chose to either demean or ignore the Tea Party Movement.  Later, the Republican Party decided it had better pay attention and began a dialogue with the Tea Partiers, and as the saying goes, the rest is history. Whether you agree with the Tea Party Movement or not, there is a lesson to be learned from their experience and that lesson is:  people do make a difference.

I think ARRA members made a difference in 2010 as well.  We were right on top of emerging issues affecting the recreation community when others were not.  We have made a difference in shaping the debate on public lands issues in the Administration and on Capitol Hill.

One could argue that the new Congress will be more receptive to our approach on federal lands issues.  Even so, it will be incumbent upon us to tell our story and to share our concerns.  We hope in the New Year you will continue to work with us on these issues.  Remember, "people do make a difference."

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access


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