BRC Applauds Bipartisan Legislation to Reopen Popular OHV Recreation Site

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April 29, 2013 4:48 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 29, 2013) -- The BlueRibbon Coalition, a national trail-based recreation group, applauds Congressman Sam Farr (D-Salinas) and Congressman David Valadao (R-Coalinga) for recently introducing H.R. 1776, the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act of 2013. Also co-sponsored by Congressman Jeff Denham (R- Modesto), the bill would reopen the 75,000 acre Clear Creek Management Area to OHV recreation and other multiple-uses.  In addition, the proposal would designate about 21,000 acres nearby as the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness.

In 2008, the BLM imposed an interim emergency closure of the area to all users, even hikers, citing concerns about a public health risk due to naturally occurring asbestos.  A few weeks ago, the agency released its Final Environmental Impact Statement that not surprisingly selected a highly restrictive management alternative that basically codifies the current closure even though 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 San Benito County Board of Supervisors petitioned Congress in 2011 to address the closure by designating it as a National Recreation Area based on the 2005 Clear Creek Travel Management Plan as the guiding document for the NRA.  The Plan identified about 243 miles of motorized roads and trails, 400 acres of open riding areas and authorized a number of permitted OHV events.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, "Californians have seen previous bills signed into law that created opportunities for both the OHV and conservation communities.  In 2006, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Napa) worked with Congressman Richard Pombo (R-Lodi)on H.R. 233 that designated new Wilderness and also codified OHV use at BLM's Cow Mountain Recreation Area near Ukiah.

"In 2010, Congressman Wally Herger (R-Chico) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sponsored H.R. 689 that created a new 5,000 acre Wilderness area near Weaverville and enhanced OHV recreational opportunities at the Chappie-Shasta OHV Area near Redding," Amador continued.

"I believe that H.R. 1776 was crafted in that same bipartisan spirit.  It was given the appropriate bill number as it will reopen closed lands and afford the thousands of OHV enthusiasts who used to recreate at Clear Creek the freedom to enjoy that activity once again on that unit, Amador concludes.

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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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