Well-Known Member
<font color=yellow>CALIFORNIA OHV TEAM HITS HOME RUN IN WASHINGTON, D.C. </font color=yellow>

On Thursday, April 18th, 2002, six weary, but excited, California off-road recreation representatives returned from two days of intense lobbying effort in Washington, D.C. During those very busy days, the group met with five California Congressional Representatives, one Utah Congressman, five Congressional Legislative Aides, and two Assistant Secretaries of the Interior.

The primary purpose of the trip was to educate the decision makers in Washington regarding the actions of federal land management agencies in California – particularly the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the California Desert District. As suspected, officials within the Department of the Interior, as well as Federal Congresspersons, were only partially aware of impacts on recreation being caused by land management decisions in California. Most Representatives agreed that OHV recreation has been unfairly targeted for land closures, not only in California, but nationwide.

The California Team was led by Roy Denner, the President of the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA). Roy and Pete Conaty, OHV Lobbyist/Political Consultant, worked together for several months to put the trip together and arrange the appointments. Since the OHV community in California has been forced to move into the legal arena, David Hubbard, environmental attorney, was a key member of the team. Also participating were Jim McGarvie, Chairman of the San Diego Off-Road Coalition (SDORC), Michelle Cassella, representing the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA) and the ACTION program, and Dave Oakleaf, representing the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), District 37. Several of the organizations represented are also members of the California League of Off-Road Voters (CLORV).

Denner, Hubbard, and McGarvie joined Congressman Duncan Hunter for breakfast in the Congressional dining room. Congressman Hunter expressed concern about issues regarding the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) and the recently drafted Recreation Area Management Plan (RAMP). He was unaware of the RAMP’s recommendation for curfews, new alcohol regulations, capacity limits, camping restrictions, and other provisions. He agrees that any restrictions or limitations proposed in the plan should be supported by good data and/or good science.

The Team had opportunities to speak personally with Congressman Richard Pombo, Stockton, CA; Congressman Ed Royce, Fullerton, CA; Congressman John Doolittle, Granite Bay, CA; and Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, Escondido, CA. All of these Congressmen expressed concern about losses of recreation access on federal lands in California. Most emphasized that land management decisions should only be made when sound science supports the decisions.

Utah Congressman James Hansen, Chairman of the House Resources Committee, pointed out that over 80% of Utah is owned by the Federal Government as compared to 50% in California. Land use concerns in his state are widespread. Congressman Hansen is an advocate for multiple use of federal lands and is working on programs in Utah to protect off-highway vehicle recreation. Unfortunately, for the recreation community, Congressman Hansen will be retiring at the end of this term.

The OHV group also met with staff members from the offices of: Congressman Gary Miller, Diamond Bar, CA; Congressman Darrell Issa, Vista, CA; Congresswoman Hilda Solis, El Monte, CA; Congressman Howard McKeon, Santa Clarita, CA; and Congresswoman Susan Davis, San Diego, CA.

Political Consultant Team member, Pete Conaty, set up two very important meetings for the Team’s last hours in Washington. He scheduled meetings with two top officials in the Bush administration – Assistant Secretaries of the Interior. These officials are just two levels down from the President of the United States!

After lunch on Thursday, the OHV Team met with Craig Manson, Assistant Secretary of the Interior. Judge Manson is in charge of Fish & Wildlife and National Parks. The group expressed concern about species being listed on the Threatened & Endangered List under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) without adequate supporting scientific evidence of the need for such listings. Attorney Hubbard discussed concerns regarding the science used to list the California Desert Tortoise and the Peirson’s Milk Vetch Plant. He also talked about the new attempt to list the Flat Tailed Horned Lizard without valid supporting scientific data.

Hubbard also pointed out that the killer of the Desert Tortoise is Upper Respiratory Tract Disease – not human or farm animal destruction of the Tortoise habitat! A Bureau of Land Management (BLM) representative present at that meeting pointed out that the original Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan is over eight years old at this time. It was scheduled to be reviewed after five years to determine if the recovery plan was really working – it is not!

Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, Rebecca Watson, also welcomed the OHV Team into her office in the Department of the Interior building. One of Ms. Watson’s duties is to run the BLM. The group discussed concerns about the new land management plans currently being drafted by the BLM for the 10 million acre California Desert District. Particular emphasis was placed on the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Management Plan for which the BLM is currently taking public input. The negative impacts to OHV recreation that will occur if the “preferred alternative” of this plan is implemented were pointed out.

Concerns with other California Desert management plans (actually Environmental Impact Statements) were enumerated by the Team. Again, David Hubbard talked about the legal considerations related to making land management decisions based on the Desert Tortoise, the Peirson’s Milk Vetch plant, and the Flat Tailed Horned Lizard.

Not only did the California OHV Team accomplish its education objective in Washington, D.C. but it also learned that the off-road recreation community has big-time support from many of our federal legislators. It was impressive to note that many legislators were already familiar with the OHV issues in California. Just as important were those who were not aware or fully up to speed on our issues.

If they did not know who we were before, they certainly do now. We are already hearing about positive results for the OHV community coming out of Washington. This lobbying trip to D.C. followed the annual lobbying day at the California State Capitol in Sacramento in which over 50 off-roaders participated this year. Just as the off-road community finds it necessary to lobby state legislators and the Governor’s administration in Sacramento, off-roaders now find it necessary to lobby Congress and the Federal Government if we hope to succeed in fighting off the attacks on OHV recreation by the enviro-extremists and some Federal Bureaucrats. ORBA’s Board of Directors is recommending that a Washington, D.C. lobbying effort become a regular annual event.

<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>


Well-Known Member
wow! thats really good to hear! Damn those guys were busy and its good to see that OHV'ers have an organized force too. Its also good to hear that not all politicians are siding with eco-folks! thanks for the update, Tim