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America Outdoors Association

January 15, 2010

America Outdoors Association Bulletin

How to Help Haiti

Senator Tester’s Wilderness Bill Includes Language Recognizing the Need for Outfitters in Wilderness

Bill Requiring CDL’s for 9 to 15 Passenger Vans Crossing State Lines Approved by Senate Committee

Colorado Wilderness Bill Would Include Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas

Landowner on Taylor River in Colorado Shuts Down River to Float Trips

How to Help Haiti

We found the following websites are among the best ways to help the people of Haiti cope with the overwhelming devastation and catastrophe that has fallen upon that country.  Give what you can.

American Red Cross

Doctors Without Borders

Pan American Relief

Salvation Army

U.S. State Department
Text 'HAITI' to '90999' and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.

World Vision

Senator Tester’s Wilderness Bill Includes Language Recognizing the Need for Outfitters in Wilderness

S.1470 - Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009 – introduced by Senator Tester (D-MT) contains strong language protecting existing outfitter uses in the wilderness areas proposed by the bill.  The language in S. 1470 can be found below and, if in the final bill, the language should relieve some of the headaches associated with “needs assessments” and potential challenges to outfitted use in the proposed wilderness areas.

(m) OUTFITTER AND GUIDE ACTIVITIES.—Outfitter and guide activities conducted under permits of the Forest Service in effect on the date of enactment of this Act in any wilderness area designated by section 201 shall be considered to have met all requirements for necessary analysis for the permits.

When new wilderness is designated by Congress, the managing agency is required by statute to determine the extent to which commercial services are necessary to fulfill the recreational or wilderness purposes of the Act.  “(6) Commercial services may be performed within the wilderness areas designated by this Act to the extent necessary for activities which are proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the areas.”

This language requires the agency to perform a “needs assessment”.  Some groups, which do not like commercial use in wilderness, have used the “needs assessment” to challenge the level of outfitted use by asserting that the “needs assessment” was inadequate (High Sierra Hikers v Blackwell).   In 2008, Wilderness Watch argued that the amount of outfitted use allowed in wilderness should be “the minimum amount necessary”.  In their comments on the Forest Service Outfitter and Guide Permitting Directives, Wilderness Watch, Wild Wilderness and Friends of the Clearwater wrote:  “The fact that some level of commercial services might be necessary does not allow the agency to authorize a level of use that exceeds the minimum amount necessary or to facilitate activities that are not wilderness dependent.  (See Blackwell, also Hike Sierra Hikers v. Weingardt (N. Dist. CA, Oct. 2007).  Market demand does not equate to nor should it be used to determine the “need” for commercial services.”  

Bill Requiring CDL’s for 9 to 15 Passenger Vans Crossing State Lines Approved by Senate Committee

Outfitter members of America Outdoors Association are planning visits to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in February to oppose the provisions in H.R. 1396 and S. 554 to require Commercial Driver’s Licenses for 9 to 15 passenger vans.  (We’ll also be addressing other issues of importance to members, such as Forest Service cost recovery and the legislation to authorize sales taxes on navigable waters).  Prior to the Christmas holiday recess, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee marked up S. 554, The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2009, which includes the requirement for CDL’s for 9 to 15 passenger vans transporting passengers across state lines.  This action paves the way for the legislations insertion in a larger highway bill that is expected to emerge, possibly in this session. 

A House of Representatives bill, H.R. 1396, includes similar language and also requires installation of event and driver monitoring devices, but no action has been taken on the bill.  Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) oversees the subcommittee that will review H.R. 1396. 

AOA is mounting a lobbying effort to modify the bill to exempt outfitter and guide transportation when it is not the primary purpose of the business.  We urge you to use the model letter sent earlier and that is available on the AOA homepage to oppose these provisions.  One insurance agency with coverage of outfitters in 32 states wrote that total claims paid over the past three years equaled 15% of total premium volume with no fatalities or serious bodily injury during this period.  The claims dealt with physical damage to the vans and there were no “major” claims.

Colorado Wilderness Bill Would Include Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas

Representative DeGette recently introduced the Colorado Wilderness Act, H.R. 4289, to designate 850,000 acres of wilderness in Colorado. The proposed wilderness areas – in all Colorado legislative districts – lie roughly two-thirds in national forests and one-third in BLM-managed land.  The areas include Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas and the Delores River Canyon.

Landowner on Taylor River in Colorado Shuts Down River to Float Trips

A Texas real-estate developer who is building a subdivision on the Taylor River plans to bar floating on the river to two permitted outfitters by threatening to have the outfitters cited for trespassing.  The same claims of river ownership could be applied to rivers throughout the state and shut down rafting and fishing through private land on major streams.  Therefore, State Senator Kathleen Curry is proposing legislation that would secure the right to float on navigable streams and allow incidental contact with the stream bed or river bank without the threat of trespass. The bill would also allow portage around hazards.  

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