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ARRA Washington Newsletter - March 2013

In This Issue...
Personnel Changes
Johnson Valley
Forest Service Planning Rule Proposed Directives are Released
Snowmobiles in Yellowstone
Playing the Fiddle while Rome Burns

** Personnel Changes **

The President has nominated Sally Jewell, currently CEO of REI, a well known outdoor recreation retailer, as his candidate to succeed Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior.  The selection of Jewell was a surprise to many, but we hope this serves as recognition on the President's part of the importance that recreation holds for the use of our public lands.

Unknown to us is where Ms. Jewell stands on motorized recreation. Many of the charitable projects that REI has supported over the years could be construed as being unfriendly towards motorized recreation. Clearly this is an issue that merits review during the confirmation process. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a March 7th hearing on her nomination. Short of some unknown issue arising during the course of the confirmation hearing, we expect that she will be confirmed by the full Senate sometime in March. Secretary Salazar has already announced that his resignation will become effective on March 31st.

Meanwhile, Secretary Salazar is expected to name Neil Kornze, a former aide to Senator Harry Reid, as the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management. Kornze would be succeeding Mike Pool, the current acting director of BLM, who is retiring from federal service. Kornze's appointment will elevate his profile so that he might be considered as the permanent director of the agency, but final decision on that appointment will await Sally Jewell once she becomes Secretary. Kornze currently serves as the BLM's acting director of programs and policy.

** Johnson Valley **

The Marine Corps announced its Record of Decision regarding its intention to expand its 29 Palms facility into the Johnson Valley OHV recreation area.  The preferred alternative selected by the Marines is disappointing news to the OHV community.


** Forest Service Planning Rule Proposed Directives are Released **

After months of delay, the Forest Service has released for public comment its proposed directives governing the implementation of the 2012 Planning Rule.  Comments on the proposed directives must be submitted to the agency by April 29, 2013.

The purpose of these directives is to provide consistent overall guidance to Forest Service Line Officers as they develop management plans for our national forests.  ARRA is currently reviewing the proposed directives and once we have a better understanding of the scope and impact on recreation, we will be sharing that information with you in the event you desire to submit your own comments.  In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the proposed directives, please go to this link. http://www.arra-access.com/site/R?i=5J4oYP2RoZ4YxSB1UefaLw .

** Snowmobiles in Yellowstone **

The National Park Service is one step closer to finalizing a winter use plan for snowmobile access to Yellowstone National Park.  The agency will soon be publishing in the Federal Register a proposed rule for a 60-day review and public comment period.  The draft plan outlines the number and type of snow vehicles permitted in the park on a daily basis as well as access points to the park for those vehicles.  As we obtain more information about this proposed rule, we will be sharing it with ARRA members.  The NPS hopes to have a Record of Decision and a long-term regulation in place before the start of the 2013-2014 winter season.

** Playing the Fiddle while Rome Burns **

History has a tendency of repeating itself and our political leaders seem to be ignoring the fact that we have a major financial crisis brewing of our own making.  I am speaking, of course, about sequestration, something that I have been writing about for several months.

Everyone knew that the drop dead date for sequestration was February 28th.  One would think that our congressional leaders and our President (or his designees) would have been burning the midnight oil for weeks leading up to this deadline in order to avoid the budget cuts.  Instead, the President went on vacation to Florida so he could play golf with an internationally known golf pro and the Congress was in recess for an entire week. The first scheduled meeting between the President and congressional leaders to discuss this issue was Friday, March 1st, the day after the deadline.

Both sides have been very busy blaming each other for this predicament when they were the very parties who signed off on the sequestration plan in the first place.  They aren't governing and they aren't solving problems.  Playing the fiddle of blame doesn't change one thing.  Eventually our economy will suffer if this stalemate continues and certainly our recreational access to federal lands could be severely limited.  The next critical deadline is March 27th when funding for the entire federal government expires. Not a pretty picture by any means!


Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access


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