Possible fee increase next season

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Possible fee increase next season

Post by DuneRookie »

According to the El Centro Management report fees could be going up. [-X So lets all hold hands while we bend over :shock: errr I mean take a bow.

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Re: Possible fee increase next season

Post by Woodglue »

DR, Do you have a link where we can read more about this?
My Avatar is BLM's DRAMP Proposed OHV Access under Alt #3.
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IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT?
More here

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Re: Possible fee increase next season

Post by RAD4EVER »

DuneRookie wrote:According to the El Centro Management report fees could be going up. [-X So lets all hold hands while we bend over :shock: errr I mean take a bow.
Gosh.....I askess...where's all this money going to?
Look...I'm not tight with 90 dollar season pass, but "DANG"....where's the the accountability?
RAD

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Re: Possible fee increase next season

Post by DuneRookie »

http://www.americansandassociation.org/ ... =7&t=25201


http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/ ... 0Mar09.doc

El Centro Field Office
District Advisory Council Report

March 20, 2009

Geology

Geothermal: A Record of Decision was signed on July 2, 2008 to lease all BLM lands, totaling 14,373 acres, within the Truckhaven Geothermal Leasing Area. BLM received 2 appeals on this ROD. One appeal came from EcoLogic and its four member organizations - the American Sand Association, San Diego Off-Road Coalition, the American Motorcycle Association District 37, and the Off-Road Business Association. The other appeal came from Geo-Energy Partners-1983 Ltd. and Jack McNamara. BLM has provided responses to the protests to the IBLA and we are awaiting their decision
.
On East Mesa, we continue to conduct periodic compliance inspections in support of on-going lease operations.

Mineral Materials: We are continuing work on plans of operations and environmental assessments for competitive mineral material sales at 3 different sites for 2 commodities (sand and rock). In addition, we are working with operators to complete reclamation of past mining areas. Since our last report, we have continued to conduct inspections to verify production and ensure compliance with established reclamation plans, including several inspections conducted jointly with the Imperial County Planning Department.

We are beginning work on a new environmental assessment for sand and gravel operations in the Shell Canyon area with the Ocotillo Miners Group.

Locatables: Western Goldfields is continuing full-scale mining operations at the Mesquite Mine. The Mesquite Mine is the largest gold producing mine in California.

We are currently analyzing a mine plan of operations from US Corp for test drilling on their mine claims near Picacho.

Wildlife

Last year, we entered into an agreement with U.C. Davis to conduct an insect inventory of the Imperial Sand Dunes. The ongoing study involves a variety of trapping techniques conducted at different times of year and at numerous habitat types in an effort to identify as many species as possible and to gain more information about the invertebrates. UC Davis has submitted a report for this past season’s work. A few of the interesting findings:

• Approximately 50,000 specimens collected
• Not all specimens have been identified, but already over 900 species have been identified of the specimens collected
• 42 suspected endemic species identified
• Possibility of discovery of several species new to science

BLM intends to continue the assistance agreement with UC Davis this season. UC Davis staff will be out in the Imperial Sand Dunes to continue collecting and provide consecutive years of data to the BLM.

The El Centro Field Office is working with the California Desert District Office to acquire lands to protect the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard using funds collected for habitat compensation. We are preparing for this summer’s Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard monitoring project.

We completed an environmental assessment with the California Department of Fish and Game and the Marine Corps Air Station analyzing locations for 8 guzzlers in the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range. These guzzlers will serve as mitigation for impacts to wildlife related to the lining of the Coachella Canal. We are also working with Imperial Irrigation District on an Environmental Assessment for 5 deer guzzlers at the south end of the Cargo Muchacho Mountains as mitigation for impacts to deer related to the lining of the All American Canal. We are also considering a right of way for IID to install a fence to prevent deer from entering the canal.


Botany

This year’s work on Pierson’s Milkvetch in the Imperial Sand Dunes consisted of a pollinator study. BLM has worked with UC Davis (through an assistance agreement) to find out which insects are the main pollinators of Peirson’s Milkvetch. UC Davis submitted reports on an insect census and the PMV pollinator study in February. The report on the PMV pollination study indicates that the main pollinator of PMV is a type of large apid bee, Habropoda pallida Timberlake. Several subterranean nest sites of this species were found north of Highway 78 in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness area.

Several other insects were found associated with PMV, including two species of exotic aphids: the pea aphid and bean aphid.

A large scale tamarisk removal project is being planned for the fall season in the San Felipe Wash near the Fish Creek Wilderness Area.

Rangeland Management

There is one active grazing lease in Eastern San Diego County (McCain Valley – Tierra Blanca). As of completion of the ROD for Eastern San Diego County, all allotments are now unavailable for livestock grazing. Inspection of allotments will continue to occur each year to evaluate continued management of these areas.

Wilderness Program

Desert Hikes: We have updated our desert hike program to focus our attention on a local school district that has requested our assistance. We have taken up to 15 or so students out on 3 separate hikes so far this year with a couple more planned for the future.

Wilderness Monitoring: We are scheduled to monitor 150,000 acres of wilderness this year. Since October, we have completed 80,000 acres of monitoring. We have also monitored several natural water tanks within 4 wilderness areas on the east side of our resource area.

Tamarisk Removal: We had a contract for 1,300 acres of tamarisk removal along the east side of the Fish Creek Mountains Wilderness area, from the Carrizo Impact Area to the San Sebastian Marsh. This project occurred in November of 2008 and should help alleviate the need for Border Patrol incursions into the Wilderness Area in pursuit of immigrants hiding among dense vegetation. It will also help protect the watershed for the San Sebastian Marsh. We have also monitored for additional infestations within 2 wilderness areas on the west side of our resource area.

Cultural Resources

We have formed a partnership with local members of the Native American Community, archaeologists, Border Patrol and others to protect sensitive geoglyphs in the Yuha ACEC.

Archaeological surveys are underway to locate cultural resources in the East Mesa and the Yuha in preparation for route restoration activities. These surveys not only allow for restoration crews to avoid sensitive resources but also provide updates and monitoring reports on the conditions of existing sites in that area.

BLM is developing an audio tour for the cultural resources of the Yuha Desert as part of the Take-It-Outside program in which users can download pod-casts or CDs with educational information for visitors to the Yuha.

In partnership with Imperial County and various racing organizations, archaeological surveys are also underway to add additional mileage to BLM’s existing OHV race corridors in the Plaster City and Superstition Mountain Open Areas. The BLM has established a strong working relationship with the local and regional racing organizations to designate approved racing routes resulting in a much more efficient permitting process.



Lands & Realty

Solar Projects: We continue to receive applications for solar energy development. Sterling Energy Systems has met minimum data requirements for CEC and BLM on their Application for Certification/POD for their 750 megawatt Solar Two project in Imperial County. The CEC found the AFC data adequate on October 8 and BLM’s Notice of Intent was published on October 17 initiating the scoping period. Joint Informational Site Visit/Scoping Meetings were held in November and December, and work is currently underway to prepare a joint Preliminary Staff Assessment/Draft EIS for the project.

We are currently reviewing POD’s for Sun Peak Solar, Iberdrola (PSI), and OptiSolar.

Wind Energy: Applications for wind energy testing facilities include proposals from Clipper, RENEWergy, and Wind Hunter. In addition, two testing rights-of-way have been issued to Iberdrola and RENEWergy. Iberdrola has requested installation of 3 additional wind monitoring devices for their Tule Wind Project and work on an Environmental Assessment for this is underway. Iberdrola has revised the POD for the Tule Wind Project to be consistent with the new Eastern San Diego County RMP and anticipates submitting it to BLM in the near future.

Transmission Lines: SDG&E Sunrise Powerlink Project – On January 20, 2009, the State Director signed a record of decision (ROD) approving the southern route alternative for the Sunrise Powerlink transmission project proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) designed to help met state renewable energy goals. The State Director also approved an amendment to the agency’s Eastern San Diego County Resource Management Plan regarding the power line. SDG&E agreed to the offer of a right-of-way grant and temporary use permit with extensive mitigating terms and conditions, including those in the biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in compliance with the Endangered Species Act, and BLM subsequently issued the grant and permit for the power line.

BLM's decision authorizes issuance of right-of-way grant to SDG&E for the final environmentally superior southern route alternative as analyzed in the final EIS/EIR, issued in October 2008. The approved route crosses 48.9 miles of BLM land, 19.2 miles of U.S. Forest Service land, 2.0 miles of Department of Defense land, and 0.4 miles of state land. The approved route is described in detail and shown on maps in the final EIS/EIR, available at CPUC’s website:

http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/environment/info ... unrise.htm.

A notice of availability of the ROD was published in the Federal Register on February 20, 2009 beginning a 30-day appeal period.




Other Lands Actions:

Mesquite Regional Landfill – The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles has proposed to amend the Conditional Use Permit for the Mesquite Regional Landfill to allow delivery of waste by trucks as well as by rail. The County of Imperial is the lead agency. BLM has submitted scoping comments and will participate in the CEQA review of the proposed amendment.

The United States Gypsum Company Expansion/Modernization Project Final EIR/EIS was released to the public late last year. The County of Imperial is the lead agency. BLM’s involvement is a right-of-way application to replace the existing water pipeline from Plaster City to U.S. Gypsum’s water well near Ocotillo. A Record of Decision is pending completion of Section 7 consultation.

BOR/IID All American Canal Realignment Project - Most of the project occurs on BOR withdrawn lands, however, BLM worked with BOR/IID to identify access, material and mitigation needs on BLM administered lands outside of the withdrawn lands. Construction is well underway and with minimum impact to recreational use in the area.

BOR and BLM entered into an interagency agreement to provide habitat compensation for the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard for the Drop 2 reservoir project. This project is entirely on BOR withdrawn lands and construction is underway.

Land Use Planning

Last year, the Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement for Eastern San Diego County was released for public review and comment. The 30-day protest period ended on January 7, 2008. All protests were resolved and the Eastern San Diego County Resource Management Plan and Record of Decision were signed on October 10, 2008.

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

RAMP: Initial public scoping has been completed and the BLM is currently in the process of preparing the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Management Plan (RAMP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as an amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan. The draft is scheduled for release in late April, 2009.


Trash Service: Imperial County has provided $125,000 from in-lieu tax dollars to cover the cost of trash service in the dunes for the remainder of the 2008/09 season. The contract is between Imperial County and Allied Waste. BLM is looking for alternative ways to pay for trash service in the future, which may mean raising fees.

Fees: This year, gross sales are down 7%. Last season, we also experienced a 7% reduction. This year, permit sales are down 17%, however, compliance is 84%, a 4% increase from last year. 50% of permits were sold off-site, an increase of 36% from last year. Visitation is down 4% and medicals are down 38%.
ECFO is looking into raising fees for next season to cover operating costs. The 2003 Business Plan is being revised in house and will be used to determine how much to raise ISDRA fees for the 2009/2010 season. ECFO is planning on presenting to the RRAC in May.

Vendor Permits: There have been 109 vendor applicants this season, compared to 140 last season. This is most likely due to the economy.

Wash Road: Union Pacific Rail Road (UPRR) has been installing a fence just inside their property line which extends 100’ from the centerline of the rail road tracks and encompasses essentially all of Wash Road. This project started in mid-November and will extend from approximately Highway 78 to the south; ending-point at this time is Wash 28, a stretch of about six miles.

BLM met with UPRR representatives on February 4th to discuss their project and their concerns about allowing continued public access to this area. UPRR agreed to allow continued public access through the end of this use season, but expressed their intent to close off access by next season (2009/10).

The wash road currently provides access to flat sandy areas west of the new fence. The areas north of wash 8 will still be accessible by driving through the flat sandy areas south and west of the fence. A dune arm extends across the flat sandy area to the new fence between washes 8 and 9 blocking. At this time, the Wash Road is the only way around this sand dune area for RVs. BLM has already begun to explore options which could provide new means of accessing the flat sandy areas to the south of wash 8 that historically have been used for camping.

Law Enforcement

ISDRA: With cooler winter temperatures, visitation in the desert has increased, and even with a 4% decrease in visitation, the dunes are still seeing quite a bit of use. We have had several small to medium size gatherings in the area in the North Dunes. The El Centro Field Rangers still have a strong positive relationship with the Imperial County Sheriff.

West Side: Illegal alien trafficking is still on the increase and drug smuggling has increased dramatically in the last several months. We have also seen an increase in the amount of border-related litter and off route driving. We have consequently increased law enforcement patrols on the West Side and are working resource cases including thefts of reptiles and other species. Our increased patrols have also resulted in the discovery and eradication of several cultivated marijuana gardens.

East Side: Increased Border Patrol presence and the new border fence have caused a reduction in smuggling in these areas. Route proliferation continues to be a concern for Law Enforcement. We are increasing signing to make it easier to educate and take appropriate enforcement actions with individuals who are off approved routes of travel.

The ECFO Law Enforcement staff has changed from 12 to 15 full time employees. We are currently at 11 and in the process of completing the hiring and backgrounds on the remaining staff. This new level of staff will help with the increasing visitation in the desert areas. Kynan Barrios has reported for duty as the new Chief Ranger in place of Michael Boxx, who accepted a new position as Special Agent.


Administrative

In addition to Law Enforcement Officer positions, we are currently working to fill several other vacancies on our staff. Selections are being finalized for a public contact rep, a natural resource specialist, and a geologist. We are also working on recruitments for an Admin Technician, an engineering equipment operator, and an Outdoor Recreation Planner. A 60-day detail has been arranged with an employee from BLM New Mexico to temporarily fill behind a realty specialist who recently retired.

The administrative staff recently completed an inventory of all accountable property in the field office in conjunction with the implementation of the new Federal Budget Management System in BLM.

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Re: Possible fee increase next season

Post by DuneRookie »

I am thinking about trying to go to this meeting. Maybe get there around lunch time Saturday March 21st. and leave soon as able after ISDRA and public comments stuff at 3:30. If I am able to go anyone want to carpool to Barstow? If I drive my F150 I can take 3 others comfortably. I am in San Diego (Poway) so it will be a long drive but maybe we need to have some attendance at this one. Any takers?

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Re: Possible fee increase next season

Post by Sloppyduner »

I've been planning to be at this meeting for months. I'll be going up Friday. If you want to leave the night before and go up with me your more than welcome Larry, All though I was planing on doing the Johnson Valley tour the day before.

I think the more of us we get up to Barstow the better, if for nothing else to educate more of us. We are represented well at these meetings so we don't need to show up in great numbers, in my opinion.

On the subject of raising fees I know the powers that be are against it, and it would be a last resort situation.
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Re: Possible fee increase next season

Post by jhitesma »

Maybe I'm just in a pessimistic mood today.

But I see a repeat of the 2000 DAC meeting in Barstow.

Big turnout by off-roaders to tell the BLM that they where not happy about the proposed settlement of the CBD lawsuit potentially resulting in dune closures - who all got to witness first hand the BLM announcing that they had settled and there would be dune closures.

Replace dune closures with massive fee increases and you've got my prediction for this year.

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Re: Possible fee increase next season

Post by DuneRookie »

Sloppy thanks for the offer. I am not able to go day before.

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Re: Possible fee increase next season

Post by Voice »

Let's see here... we've almost lost the trash service, barely have access to over half of the camping areas, the closures are still alive and well, fee compliance is way up (and I would guess is one of the highest in the nation), crime and other incidence are way down, Comp is still closed, Olds still gets closed routinely...

And they want to increase the fees...


FOR WHAT????
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Re: Possible fee increase next season

Post by azsandrider »

Trash Service: Imperial County has provided $125,000 from in-lieu tax dollars to cover the cost of trash service in the dunes for the remainder of the 2008/09 season. The contract is between Imperial County and Allied Waste. BLM is looking for alternative ways to pay for trash service in the future, which may mean raising fees.

Fees: This year, gross sales are down 7%. Last season, we also experienced a 7% reduction. This year, permit sales are down 17%, however, compliance is 84%, a 4% increase from last year. 50% of permits were sold off-site, an increase of 36% from last year. Visitation is down 4% and medicals are down 38%.
ECFO is looking into raising fees for next season to cover operating costs. The 2003 Business Plan is being revised in house and will be used to determine how much to raise ISDRA fees for the 2009/2010 season. ECFO is planning on presenting to the RRAC in May.
I guess the majority wants trash service, so that means WE ALL have to pay for it... The simple solution is to have NO trash service and spend the money for aggressive litter enforcement.

Those of us who go to Ogilby area do NOT have any amenities... There is NO trash service but there is no real trash problem. Those areas are some of the cleanest camp areas in the dunes. There are no bags of trash strewn along the roads either. WE TAKE OUR TRASH HOME WITH US!!!!

I believe a good education program over the summer with a good enforcement effort to back up the education can work to have people take their trash home.....

BUT, the fees will go up to cover the trash service.....I predict $120 a year for the next several years......Of course, where I camp we get to pay for trash, pit toilets, and road grading for other areas but don't get those benifits.....

It seems like people want the BLM to provide everything and then are suprised when the BLM wants us to pay for it...If we stop asking for trash service and other non-essential amenities, maybe the fees could stay the same as the money would be used for the essential services....
(The above statement is my own opinion and not that of the ASA's.)

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