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America Outdoors E-News

March 11, 2008

 
Hearing Scheduled on the Impacts of Unmanaged Off-Road Vehicles on Federal Land Congressmen Rahall and Dicks Introduce Bill to Create Federal Lands Firefighting Fund
Green Building Projects Catalog Posted on Web Your Comments on Forest Service Permitting Directives Due by March 19
Rocky Mountain Region to Hold Open House in Golden on March 25 H.R. 2016 Proposes to Establish a New National Landscape Conservation System
Update on Legislation to Authorize Taxes on Services on Navigable Waters    
   
Hearing Scheduled on the Impacts of Unmanaged Off-Road Vehicles on Federal Land
 

On Thursday March 13, the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will hold an oversight hearing on "The Impacts of Unmanaged Off-Road Vehicles on Federal Land." The committee release states: "unmanaged use of off-road vehicles is a problem that federal land management agencies are failing to address." The Subcommittee will examine potential issues that have caused federal land agencies to struggle to adequately enforce existing regulations, protect cultural and natural resources, and provide for public safety. Visit the Committee's Web site to access witness testimony following the conclusion of the hearing. (March 13, 2008, at 2:00 p.m., Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building)

   
Congressmen Rahall and Dicks
Introduce Bill to Create Federal Lands Firefighting Fund
 

On March 6, 2008, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) introduced the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME Act) (H.R. 5541), a bill to create a new federal fund dedicated solely to fight future catastrophic, emergency wildland fire suppression activities. Federal fire suppression spending has increased substantially over the past 10 years, with 48 percent of the Forest Service budget accounting for these activities today. Much to the detriment of other programs under the auspices of federal land management agencies, the Forest Service and the Interior Department have been forced to borrow funds from other agency accounts to cover these escalating costs. Visit the Committee's Web site to view the press release with additional information on the FLAME Act.

   
Green Building Projects Catalog Posted on Web
  The Green Building Council has posted a Innovation & Design Credit Catalog that enables those interested in obtaining credits for innovation in greening building strategies to view some of the projects that have been successfully implemented by builders. The catalog is a list of project ideas that have been implemented and not a code or list of required credits. To view the catalog go to http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=3569
   
Your Comments on Forest Service Permitting
Directives Due by March 19
  Need help with your comments. Give us a call or let us review your remarks. A few tips:

America Outdoors submitted extensive comments to the Proposed Forest Service Outfitting and Guiding Special Uses Permits and Insurance Requirements for Forest Service Special User Permits, which were noticed in the Federal Register on October 19, 2008. The comments are posted under Proposed Rules and Regulations on the America Outdoors website: http://www.americaoutdoors.org/docs/FS3408.doc

   
Rocky Mountain Region to Hold Open House in
Golden on March 25
On Tuesday, March 25th Region Forester Rick Cables will hold an Open House in Golden, Colorado at the Forest Service Regional Office, 740 Simms Street, Golden, CO 80401. Forester Cables will address the group on the "State of the Region". Participants will have opportunities to network with Forest Service regional program managers. The meeting is scheduled to run from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Those attending should RSVP the regional office. Please reply to r2partnerships@fs.fed.us. For information contact Susan Alden Weingardt 303-275-5401, or salden@fs.fed.us.
   
H.R. 2016 Proposes to Establish a New National Landscape Conservation System
  BLM's Landscape Conservation System, established during the Clinton Administration, may become law soon. A bipartisan group has introduced legislation to authorize the establishment of the system, which would "conserve, protect, and restore nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values". Notice that recreation is not mentioned in the legislation and that omission may lead to diminished recreation potential when management plans are developed for the areas. Areas covered include Wild and Scenic Rivers, wilderness, national monuments, and other areas including national Trails. Outfitter activities in these areas have come under increased scrutiny. In national forests elaborate "needs assessments" are required in congressionally designated areas prior to issuing permits for outfitting and guiding. Suits by Wilderness Watch have increased the documentation required for "needs assessments".

Excerpts from the legislation follow.
(a) Establishment- In order to conserve, protect, and restore nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations, there is established in the Bureau of Land Management the National Landscape Conservation System.
(b) Components- The system shall include each of the following areas administered by the Bureau of Land Management:

(1) Each area that is designated as--

(A) a national monument;
(B) a national conservation area;
(C) an outstanding natural area;
(D) a wilderness study area;
(E) a component of the National Trails System;
(F) a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System; or
(G) a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

(2) Any area designated by Congress to be administered for conservation purposes, including--

(A) the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area, as designated under section 101(a) of the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act of 2000 (16 U.S.C. 460nnn-11(a));
(B) the Headwaters Forest Reserve; and
(C) any additional area designated by Congress for inclusion in the system.

(c) Management- The Secretary shall manage the system--

(1) in accordance with any applicable law (including regulations) relating to any component of the system included under subsection (b); and
(2) in a manner that protects the values for which the components of the system were designated

   
Update on Legislation to Authorize Taxes on Services on Navigable Waters
  The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007, H.R.2830, Sec. 302, repeals the current prohibition on taxes on services on navigable waterways. This bill amounts to an invitation for counties and municipalities to impose new and overlapping sales, amusement and other taxes on river, coastal tours, kayak and fishing trips. At the same time, many outfitters operating in federally managed areas are under pressure for fee increases.

The bill was discharged from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on January 29th and appears ready for passage in the House. The Senate version (S. 1892) of the bill does not contain Sec. 302.

America Outdoors made contact with a number of groups and organizations in an effort to get Congressman Oberstar, the bill's primary sponsor, to remove the language prior to passage in the House. An Alaska Congressman reportedly introduced the provision at the request of a couple of boroughs in Alaska. We are also focusing efforts on Senator Snowe's office, the ranking Republican on the Coast Guard subcommittee in the Senate, to ensure that when to House and Senate bills are reconciled this provision is not included. Maine outfitters have been in contact with Senator Snowe's office.
   
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