BLM embattled over Sand Mountain

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Crowdog
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BLM embattled over Sand Mountain

Post by Crowdog »

The following article ran in Saturday's edition of the Lahontan Valley News. Unfortunately, the reporter failed to grasp (and the BLM is now denying) that the closure area grew by several thousand acres. The map that BLM distributed over Labor Day Weekend can be viewed online at:
http://www.sandmountain-nv.org/blm_closure_plan.htm

Letters to the Editor can be sent to:

Lahontan Valley News (Fallon)
E-Mail: lvn@cccomm.net
Fax: (775) 423-0474

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BLM embattled over Sand Mountain

September 13, 2003

By CORY MCCONNELL, Lahontan Valley News

Stuck between a flower and a four-wheeler, land managers are taking flack
from all sides over their attempt to devise a conservation plan for Sand
Mountain Recreation Area.
While off-roaders say Bureau of Land Management strategies to stop the
die-off of vegetation at Sand Mountain go way too far, conservationists say
the bureau hasn't done anything yet and the plans it has are voluntary
measures that have never worked anywhere before.
"John Singlaub is allowing himself to be a puppet of the off-road industry
and that's not going to fly," said Daniel Patterson an ecologist with the
conservationist group, Center for Biological Diversity.
"The biggest thing is, the BLM is acting as though it's just trying to avoid
litigation... it's easier to close an area than it is to manage it," said
Jon Crowley, president of the off-road enthusiast group Friends of Sand
Mountain.
Each time the BLM has submitted a plan to protect the habitat, it has taken
an outpouring of such criticism from one side, the other or both.
"What we are moving to do is protect the habitat while trying to provide a
recreation area," said BLM Associate Field Manager Elayn Briggs.
The bureau's current strategy is to post signs discouraging use of certain
trails and encouraging use of others. While Patterson says the plan is
toothless and ineffectual, Crowley says the BLM wants to "discourage" use of
an ever-growing number of trails, and that's just the beginning of a more
forceful and draconian closure plan.
"We're not going to get a ticket or anything but later environmentalists
will come along and say 'look there's tracks over there.' That's when
closures will start," Crowley said.
The two most vociferous players in lobbying BLM Sand Mountain plans are
Crowley, an off-highway vehicle parts and accessories business owner from
California; and Daniel Patterson, an ecologist and environmental activist
from Arizona.
Off-roaders have on their side the outspoken support of a Nevada congressman
and a shared sympathy with the current federal administration, which may or
may not affect decisions by the BLM's Carson City office.
Environmentalists on the other hand, have in their favor the written code by
which the BLM is supposed to manage land, a long list of judicial precedents
and the backing of an organization with a history of taking fights into
courtrooms and the resources to do it again.
While much of the debate between conservationists and off-roading
enthusiasts has centered around the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly, the BLM is
actually mandated to protect the habitat of all land under its management.
If the bureau notices degradation of public land, it's required to restore
and protect that land.
Rather than the butterfly, the issue is actually how the BLM manages public
land, and the BLM is not managing Sand Mountain according to its mandate,
conservationists say. Off-roaders agree.
"(The BLM) could have started educating people along time ago," Crowley
said, "If they would have done their job this wouldn't even be an issue."
Armed with a similar opinion, Patterson said his organization's next step
could very well be litigation against the BLM.
"The law requires (the BLM) to protect land under its management. We are
looking into our options to make them comply," Patterson said.
Briggs said the BLM's current plan is to phase in signing at Sand Mountain
as it determines which trails should be discouraged and which shouldn't. The
bureau also plans to post some signs asking riders not to make new trails
but say on existing paths.

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Crowdog
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Post by Crowdog »

Editor:

While reading the article, I was struck by the idea that the author
failed to convey the magnitude of the issue.

Recreationists have been working with the BLM to address concerns in
the Sand Mountain area. Before April, 2003, BLM was planning to
close about 1,000 acres as "needed" habitat because of a "critical
threat" to the viability of "unique" plants and invertebrates. It
should be noted that no plants, animals or invertebrates in the area
are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species
Act.

Now, we are in September and the latest BLM "proposal" to protect
habitat deemed "critical" to species that are not listed as
threatened or endangered has grown to over 4,000 acres.

BLM's latest proposal does not address the central issue of managing
a recreation area. It does not address the issue of managing
resources. It seeks to avoid threatened litigation from radical
environmentalist that seek the removal of all trace of man from the
country side.

The proposed closure will have a reverberating impact through the
local and regional economies. Tourism dollars will be lost. In case
after case, rural western communities have been promised
"eco-tourism" dollars to replace the dollars lost when recreation is
shut down. the rural communities have yet to experience the promised
economic recovery.

The proposed closure does not address the long term viability of
"unique" plants and invertebrates that are not threatened or
endangered.

The Sand Mountain issues are deeper than conveyed in the article.

John Stewart
Director of Environmental Affairs, United Four Wheel Drive Associations
Natural Resources Consultant, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs

Lakeside, CA

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Post by OBSESSED »

Jon Crowley, president of the off-road enthusiast group Friends of Sand Mountain
and

The two most vociferous players in lobbying BLM Sand Mountain plans are Crowley, an off-highway vehicle parts and accessories business owner from California; and Daniel Patterson, an ecologist and environmental activist from Arizona.
Mr Vociferous :shock: .... Jon Crowley :!:

So what are you anyway? An off-road enthusiast or an off-highway vehicle parts and accessories business owner :?:

Get under Danny Pee's skin...

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