BRC Applauds Legislation Designating Clear Creek National Recreation Area

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August 03, 2012 9:30 AM
Clear Creek OHV enthusiasts on trails before the May 2008 closure.

Clear Creek OHV enthusiasts on trails before the May 2008 closure. They hope this bill will help reopen the area to responsible OHV use again.

HOLLISTER, CA (August 3, 2012) -- The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national trail-based recreation group, applauds legislation today introduced by Congressman Sam Farr that would designate a popular OHV site in central California as a National Recreation Area. This bill could help resolve the ongoing conflict between access interests and the BLM regarding the future of motorized and human powered recreation at the BLM's Clear Creek Management Area.

In 2008, the BLM issued a blanket closure of 70,000 acres to all users, even hikers, citing concerns about a public health risk due to naturally occurring asbestos. There has never been a documented case of injury despite decades of inhalation of the soils in question by humans in every conceivable activity. The BLM has been considering a highly restrictive management plan based on the alleged health concerns. California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission,  San Benito County, IERF scientists, OHV groups and at least one conservation group have questioned the science and BLM's analysis.

In October of that year, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors petitioned Congress to consider designating the unit as a National Recreation Area and reinstating responsible motorized and non-motorized use there.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BRC, states, "Congressman Farr should be commended for this proactive legislation that emphasizes education and informed choice over heavy-handed closure regarding the purely theoretical public health risk that might occur through excessive use of the area." 

The bill would allow recreational access to resume under the 2005 travel plan generated through formal agency study and public input.  The bill would also designate an adjacent portion of qualifying land with full protection as Wilderness.

"This legislation could go a long way in helping restore good relations between the BLM, the County and recreationists.  This is a carefully crafted win-win and we hope it gains the support of affected interests and politicians on all sides of the aisle,"  Amador concludes.

See the San Benito County Resolution in support of a Congressional designation.

Also, see this link for the unnumbered version of HR6286.

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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BLUERIB - http://www.sharetrails.org.

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Daina and Matt Smith at the BRC booth during the Reno Expo.

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