Notes from 8-26 asa meeting

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Notes from 8-26 asa meeting

Post by BeachHead »

Below, are my notes/observations from Saturdays meeting. They are not in any way 'official' minutes, but I think they do catch the major points. Where I list names, first let me apologize for any misspellings, and second, please realize I was in no way trying to quote the people exactly, rather trying to get the point of their question/answer. I hope this helps pass on the information that was presented at this meeting. It was very informative, and I hope timely.

1. Opening Business (9:00)

a. Additions to the agenda

b. Introduction of Guests

2. DVD update

Bill Jones presented early clips of safety DVD, presented concepts and overview. DVD will be a combo of live action and animation. DVD team is working with BLM, UDG, ICSO and some industry manufacturers. DVD content will include general information, specific safety issues, and provide a general layout of the dunes. The DVD will be focused on the many new duners that haven’t had anyone to show them what is all involved in fun, safe, and responsible recreation. It will also be a refresher course for experienced duners, becoming an information resource for all duners.

Bob Mason also briefed that there is a second DVD being produced by the BLM to orient visiting LEO’s and EMT’s on holiday weekends.

3. Rules signs program (Tim Gantz)

In conjunction with UDG, BLM, and ASA, new, single rule signs are going to be placed in various locations throughout the ISDRA. There are 15 different signs, one for each rule. So far, 55 different signs have been sold at a donation of $250 ea, raising about $14K.

4. New south dunes trash truck

A second trash outreach truck will be in operation in the south dunes this season.

5. Guest Presentations

a. Dave Hubbard, Ecologic
· Report on ASA legal activities
· Q & A
Dave has been working with the ASA since approx 2001.

Ecologic formed about 1 ½ years ago, a consortium of family oriented off road groups. Includes ASA, CORVA, ORBA, AMA dist 37, and SDORC. Monthly meetings are held to review issues faced by these groups. Approximately 5 lawsuits active at this time with various government agencies to protect the interests of the members. Nearly every month, some new issue in California arises to try and restrict off road recreation on public lands.

One of the issues being dealt with is the closures at Glamis. This process began in 2000 when CBD sued BLM for failing to go through consultations on PMV. As a result, 49000 acres of the dunes were closed. This is where we are at today. The BLM developed a new plan for this area that includes a B.O. prepared by USFWS, an environmental impact statement, and a critical habitat designation. The CBD sued the BLM saying these documents were not sufficient. In March 2006, Judge Ilston ruled that these three documents were inadequate. The US Department of Justice and Dave defended these documents, but we were not successful in convincing the judge. The current issue being decided by the judge is how to protect the listed plant.

A huge concern with this is that we didn’t want the Judge to increase the amount of land closed. The other parties agreed that the current closures are adequate. While the Judge can increase the closed area, it is not expected that this will happen.

We anticipate a ruling soon from the Judge. Next step is to get the BLM and FWS to quickly address the deficiencies so that this is done quickly.

ASA has filed a petition to remove the PMV from the threatened species list. The first time it was denied, but a lot more data has been developed showing that the plant fluctuates by climate instead of human contact. A second petition is pending a decision in the near future. The recent rainy seasons have helped show that the plant grows more when it rains, and less when it doesn’t. It is ASA’s position that the data used to list the plant from back in 1998 was insufficient. Last November, FWS issued a ruling that our data was sufficient enough that a deeper review of the data was warranted. FWS was supposed to rule by July 06, but was given an extra 90 days to complete the review, which allowed the ASA to introduce the latest data to support our position that this plant is not threatened. It is very likely that whatever decision made by FWS, there will be court action pursued by the losing party.

Everything that is done in the dunes is blown way out of proportion.

PMV has been the driving force behind ISDRA land management, but eventually, this issue will be resolved. CBD has been filing additional petitions to list 17 other species. Recently, we got some good news that FWS has denied the petitions for these 17 species because there was insufficient scientific data included by the CBD to warrant proceeding with considering listing these species.

Mr. Hubbard has noticed that the trend seems to be shifting to “safety” issues as a tool to restrict access. Things like fatalities, injuries to kids, etc.

Todd C.: Why isn’t the area north of 78 sufficient to protect these species?

Hubbard: When FWS was originally looking at listing PMV, BLM argued that the wilderness area was sufficient. FWS did not agree, and made a different decision. What created the closures was the listing of the species. BLM then had to consult with FWS on how to protect the PMV wherever it happened to be located. This would include the south dunes. No incidental take permit was ever issued, which was part of CBD’s position in their lawsuit, thus the closures in the area south of 78.

Lloyd Misner: Didn’t the Judge also have a problem with the RAMP, and doesn’t the RAMP need to be re-written?

Hubbard: No, the RAMP was not at issue, but the documents that the RAMP was built on were impacted. Judge wants BLM to analyze the option of looking at complete closure. The court felt that the BLM did not look at all options since they didn’t look at this one.

Lloyd Misner: Is there an estimate of time frame to fix the three documents?

Hubbard: A better question for BLM/FWS. It is ASA’s position that it be done quickly. The decision appears to be a ‘roadmap’ to fix the problems. Hubbard feels that maybe a year to eighteen months would be reasonable, but since BLM/FWS have other issues, it is impossible for us to determine their workload.

Rich Fair: What type of info does the CBD need to get a species listed?

Hubbard: Any one of these: procedural missteps, substative defect in the analysis, actual issue. This problem was created because of a procedural error. As a result, the judge did not hear any evidence on the plant itself, but on the management inactions only. This is akin to low hanging fruit. FWS has stepped up with the last two listing petitions, and met the procedural deadlines, removing this opportunity for the eco’s.

Jim Colln: How much will PMV delisting impact b.o. and RAMP, etc?

Hubbard: The need to have a b.o. is driven by the ESA. If the listing goes away, so does need for b.o. and critical habitiat. However, if PMV is removed, it will still require some level of protection. It would greatly shirink the lawsuit in his view, but will still be an important component in any land use decisions.

Hubbard concluded by indicating that he’s been very happy to have worked with the ASA. All actions have been very professional, and scientific. He feels we are doing a good job in our efforts.

b. Jim Bartel, USFWS
· Delisting process
· Q & A
Jim Bartel. Carlsbad Office Manager of the FWS office. He is the expert in listing and delisting of species.

Mr. Bartell has been with FWS for about 28 years, and has been working listing issues since the early 80’s. Plans to give an overview in the listing process, including the litigation. He currently is in charge of about 90 people in Southern California. His office is “ground zero” for endangered species. No discussion of the PMV issue due to pending litigation.

Presented a slide show explaining the process:

A petition is submitted.
FWS has 90 days to answer.
The answer is either not substantial….or…substantial
if substantial, triggers 12 mo status review

if not substantial, most likely the petitioner will file a lawsuit.
The 12 month status review will have three answers:
not warranted, again, most likely the petitioner will file a lawsuit.

warranted, but precluded by others (out of money to pursue, not
often used),known as a “candidate species” but courts can force a change of priority, so lawsuits are likely with this answer as well

warranted, in which a 60 day comment period is published and it also triggers a peer review. Following this, a decision to list or not list is made.

After 12 months, decision is due. Today, most of those dates are driven by court order.

Three options: list or delist as proposed (lawsuits by either side is expected in this event) list as threatened if proposed as endangered or vice versa (also litigable), or withdraw proposal (also litigable)

Five factor analysis in listing actions:
The present or threatened destriction, modiication or curtaiment of it’s habitat or range. This is most important factor. Relates to populations rather than individuals.

Over-utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes. This is rare in our area

Disease or predation. Tortise listed primarily for respritory disease

The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms.

Other natural or manmade factors affecting it’s continued existence. Rarely used as a reason for listing.

Reasons for delisting species

Original listing data in error. 16 species, 2 in part in this category.

Recovered. 15 species, 2 in part

Extinct. 9 species

Requirements of section 4(g) of ESA

Service must monitor all recoverd species for a minimum of 5 years after delisting. This means that there is some protection in the form of what is typically known as a “conservation plan” following a listing.

Service must promptly relist species to preventa significant risk

Questions that were forwarded prior to the meeting:

What happens after a delisting petition is granted? If a petition is granted, the next step is to propose the delisting in the federal register

If the PMV were delisted, is there an interim period before temp closures could be listed? Delisting will eliminate the protection requirement.

If there was a species that later science abundantly proved was not threatened or endangered, would it be delisted? Yes.

What is required to show a species listed in error? Based on the 5 listing factors already discussed.

Who in what office makes the final rulings and what are their qualifications? Ultimate decision rests with secretary of interior. It is then delegated to FWS for terrestrial organisims.

How many times can a petition be filed for a given species? No limit, but requires the same substantitive requirements each time.

Has a delisting petition denial ever been challenged successfully in court? Not to his knowledge.

How is critical habitat used? What is its function, Is it true that it results in reduced access to lands? How effective is it? Critical habitat is used to force a review of activities in any area where listed species are. Not intended to reduce access, but to protect habitiat. Sec of Interior feels it’s not very effective. Courts in mid 90’s forcing this designation.

Audience Questions:

Grant George: When does the initial 12 month clock start ticking?

Bartel: A procedural issue, technically supposed to start from day petition received. Rarely met though.

John Pergal: Any penalties for groups who try to misuse the system?

Bartel: No, nothing that can be done. No legal way to stop this currently.

Bill Vickers: With limited resources, where is the priority of our issue?

Bartel: Prioritization takes place higher than his level. Courts often set these. Also occur with negotiation with parties.

Bill Vickers: Is there anything our community can do to help facilitate the FWS doing their job?

Bartel: Continue the outreach as it’s been going. Feels best way to a good decision is through a consensus.

Brian Covey: Does the service treat things differently due to the reason it was delisted?

Bartel: Yes, the post delisting activities can be influenced by the reason it was delisted.

Robert Tron: What are steps in species recovery?

Bartel: recovery is based on whether the species needs the protection of the ESA laws.

Dick Holliday: When a species is listed, is it required to have a criteria for recovery?

Bartel: A recovery plan is required by the ESA, but in many cases, resources have not allowed this. Somewhere 1/3 to ½ of all species have this. PMV does not have one at this point.

Grant George: If a species is listed federally, and state as well, on federal law, what is the issue if it is delisted?

Bartel: More informational than anything. State listing does not really have the teeth that federal does.

Robert Hancock: What proportion of budget spent in litigation versus normal activities?

Bartel: Does not know an exact amount. Courts do not worry about the budget of FWS. Congress doesn’t really consider litigation. Litigation is accounted for however. But it is a significant part of their daily workload.

c. Neil Hamada, Manager, Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
· BLM update
· Q & A

New ISDRA maps were distributed. This is the first distribution since receipt from the printer. Maps include all rules, websites, border safety, emergency phone numbers. Almost every question a visitor could have is on this map. This was paid for with camping fee program.

The map includes a new campsite, pad 1.5. This is a new site being constructed as this meeting is being held. This is a previously used camping area, and it has no environmentally sensitive impact. This is being accomplished with money that is being saved from other areas. There is a significant process involved in getting this project approved. First BLM surveys the site, then it’s reviewed by FWS to insure that the BLM’s data is correct.

Other areas will be expanded: Gecko north loop will be hardened, pad 3 will be extended, as well as pad 4 for a total of 5 additional acres. This project funded by tax dollars. All construction will be done by beginning of the season.

There is a plan to install new pit toilets, funding and plans in place. Waiting on approval. Last week, a site tour occurred, sites have been picked with all staff people required. All contracts ready to go, awaiting approval from FWS. All signs positive. Proposed install dates mid October.

Plan is to install 14 2 stall toilets in Washroad, Glamis, Gecko road, Dunebuggy flats, and vendors. The contract with current portable toilet company costs 61K year for 6 major weekends. The permanent toilets cost $20K ea. The maintenance of the pemanent toilets will be the same as the portable ones, thus those visiting the ISDRA will have use of toilet facilities year round rather than just the 6 big holiday weekends. The upfront cost is being paid for by fee money.

Quick fact brochure was created and distributed to show the cost of trash. This has been approved by the TRT. This brochure shows how trash impacts the ISDRA.

South dunes gas pipeline project in buttercup. Drilling will start this week. BLM recommended that this project be worked through ASA and TRT. Original plan was to run pipeline right through camping area, and only bury 3’. As a result, this was rerouted, and buried deeper. Work period was changed to not work on holidays, midweek, and during summertime.

Another south dunes project is the All American Canal lining project. Original plan was to take the valley including test hill. After objection by the ASA and TRT, the plan was changed to impact test hill and camping areas less. This will impact the new bridge, and a new bridge will be built by the canal company. This is being strongly considered in the buttercup area. BLM has requested one bridge on each side of the dunes. There is the possibility of a 142 day bridge closure starting early sept. If so, temporary access will be provided.

Several projects with UDG: New interpretive kiosks installed. UDG newspaper went to the printer this week. From working with UDG, every informational item desired by duners except rv dump sites is included on new dunes map.

Rhino’s…is it legal to bolt in a rear seat, and ride in the back? If the seat is safely mounted, DOT seatbelts bolted securely to metal, it will be legal. BLM and ICSO will be getting this information to the LEO’s assigned to the dunes. Stupidity will bring the attention of law enforcement however.

A question was asked if this applies statewide. Neil indicated he could only speak for the ISDRA, but when he talked to the CHP, he was told the same thing would hold true.

10 more park rangers will be hired this year.

South Dunes ranger station construction due to be started this October. It will be located near the current camp host. This will be paid for by federal tax dollars. $275K has been received already. Thanks to Congressman Filner.

BLM will be at Sand Mountain over Labor Day.

Steve Razo, director of external affairs for desert district:

Discussed DVD project.

d. Lt. Demorst, Imperial County Sheriff’s Office
· 2006-07 Season Fee Program Management
· Permit program
· Q & A

Plan for pass sales is to get 80% of pass sales off dunes. The online permit sale is currently operating. There will be a special edition pass sold at the SSSS. Currently have 9 vendors, with more in the works.

Holiday weekends, up until November, will have to use manual sales. Contract signed yesterday for machines, but will be 90 days till machines arrive. Machines will take credit card, debit card, cash. Machines will not give out change, but will dispense a voucher that can be mailed in, or taken to a vendor to get change.

With machines, the excuse of no one there to sell pass will not be valid.

ICSO will be teaming up randomly to check on pass compliance. It is desired to get away from pinch point enforcement to minimize traffic hassle. Will be using statistical check to see what sort of compliance they are getting. If it gets bad, may have to do exit pinch points again.

There will be 4 sales points: wash, gecko road, dunebuggy flats, and buttercup. There will be at least 3 people with handheld card readers to speed up the process.

All efforts are being made to make it easier for the duner:

Robert Tron for Neil: Challenge cost share fees…do you have to be a 501(c3) org to qualify to get matching fees prior to getting approved?

Hamada defers to Razo: Yes, it needs to be a non-profit organization to qualify under the program. Task orders are being restricted due to a change in government policy. Can still use the UDG umbrella to accomplish these types as they have been grandfathered prior to the rule change.

Rob Tron: Can the moneys generated by challenge cost sharing be directed to the things done by the volunteers?

Razo: The task order under which the funds were earned must cover those activities. But the new rules are still unclear.

Robbie Guy: What is up with dust abatement/grading on wash road?

Hamada: Dust abatement first. A reduced level of financial assistance has reduced the level of services, and dust abatement is not as necessary as others. Probably not going to be available this year either.

Road grading: In addition to building the new pads and maintaining current plans. They hope to grade wash road after this, but no timeline.

Jarrod: Was there any consideration given to filing in the hole in roadrunner loop for more camping areas?

Hamada: Looked at the roadrunner loop, but it was too deep, and would be expensive for a small amount of camping area. The criteria was to provide the most area with the most access for ohv’s for the least amount of money.

Mike Sommer: Where does the material to build new pads come from?

Hamada: Allowed to maintain existing roads, like Gecko. Took sand from dune that usually grows to the road near pad 4, and from a gravel pit near the ISDRA that’s used for pad maintenance and new construction.

Stephanie Cataloni: Suggestion…Have you considered putting together a list of major citations in a quick reference guide for visiting LEO’s?

Hamada: Annually, an ISDRA handbook is made up with all the common citations, as well as holiday guides that target specific identified issues. We get a wide range of visiting officers from all over the country. The visiting officers used to be voluntary, is now a mandatory detail.

Question from audience: How about education by visiting officers instead of ticket writing?

Hamada: The local officers do tend to do this, but the visiting ones that don’t know the culture often do not. No solution to this at the present time.

Bob Buschane: What is happening with closure stakes as last year they were very hard to see?

Hamada: At one time, there was staffing for this. There is a bid existing to contract for maintaining the boundaries. There has been some difficulty getting bidders, but a new one is in the works.

Question from audience: Any offers from CBD for funding?

Hamada: No, not yet.

6. Public Comment

Jim Colln: Requested that if anyone is interested in volunteering, to please see or contact him. (

Comp Hill update: ASA meet recently with Borchard and Vicki Wood on this issue. Back in 2001 there was a task force for the Comp Hill problem. Many good ideas that are common in the public now were brought forth. It was decided to use the closure. They are now in agreement to reform this committee.

7. Committee Reports

a. Legislative

We have a lobbyist, but we need to be stronger in this area. We are planning on another DC visit in the near future. We want to meet with local legislative representatives as well as the new Secretary of the Interior. He has made some decisions that seem contrary to his previous stands. We also need to develop relationships with the career office aides.

We need to be in DC on a regular basis to insure our issues are getting priority by the management back there.

Also sit on the board for CLORV. This is not just ISDRA, it’s off roading across the state. This group is gaining stature throughout the state political system. There are two lobbyists from this group working for our access. As a result of this effort, the Governor wants to meet with the leaders on a monthly basis. It is to our advantage to support these other areas, as they will support us.

b. Biological

We will have Art Phillips in the dunes this year doing PMV studies. We are working closer with USFWS, and we expect that there will be a conservation plan following delisting at some point. Art Phillips is the leading scientist on the PMV in the country. We are having Art Phillips completely read any PMV info produced by anyone.

c. Checkered Flags

A redesign of the checkered flag is in the works. The old flag didn’t identify the ASA very well. The new flag design is fully color and size compliant with durable material and mounting points. This is designed to be a primary safety flag. The initial run of 300 will be available at the SSSS.

The old flag will not go away, this new flag will compliment

d. Raffle committee:

Tatum is in being serviced. Ticking noise was a broken spark plug cap. It will be dynode next week, serviced week after next.

Next years car is a bit behind, but we are confident that it will be at the SSSS.

We now have a raffle car manager, KS sand flags. So far, we have sold about $47K, which is far more than ever before. Car will be at north dunes more often as well.

Raffle tickets will be available at the SSSS.

e. Membership

Currently have 25284 members, 1144 supporting.

Work continues on weeding out duplicates in database.

Lifetime membership program was approved by BOD last night. Kick-off expected around the first of the year.

Dick has been doing a lot of work on the database.

f. Newsletter

September issue at printer right now. Should be mailed out this Monday or Tuesday, expect sometime close to sept 1. Online issue is in the works. A lot more info in the online version than the printed one.

Found a problem with database in that over 4,000 bad email addresses have been discovered.

Next newsletter is planned to arrive a week before Thanksgiving.

g. Business Sponsors

Business committee set up to involve businesses in the ASA.

Currently have 435, an increase of 24. There is a decrease from peak numbers. Not all wanted to re-sponsor. All 435 are now current, paying sponsors.

152 are above the $50 base level

18 sponsors are organizations and clubs

We have 79 premium sponsors offering discounts to supporting members.

Recently contacted all sponsors by mass email encouraging them to become pass vendors.

Recently contacted all sponsors to use the ASA logo on their advertising.

Business sponsors are the second largest fund raising, close to $50K/year.

11. Miscellaneous

John Ellis: Working with several other outdoor rec groups that are having similar problems that we are facing. Believes our groups should work together as we are fighting the same enemy.

Our next meeting will be in Phoenix.

11. Adjournment (1:30 PM)

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Post by BHenry »

The morning presentations were recorded, and I am in the process of editing the files. Once I have the files ready to go, we will upload them to the website. Hopefully, I should have those online sometime this weekend.
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Post by RobC »

Very good info. Thank you all for your time.
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Nice note taking Secretary Bob, I think your hired... :lol: :lol: :lol:

You may not have the nice legs that Julie does but... :wink:

Thanks Bryan for the AV equiptment and your time at the meeting, it made the presentations so much better. :P Now if we can train Dick to use the microphone "in his hand" that would be good... :lol:

Great meeting and possibly one of the quickest I've attended too... :D

SO MUCH information and most of it was POSITIVE. I see a great season at the ISDRA coming... the new kiosks will be used... :mrgreen:

Here is the one at Glamis Flats by Vendor Row...

Nothing is achieved without effort --- the fundamental force that brings success...:)

Proud 2005 JRS Award recipient :P


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