The U.S. Forest Service updated its Planning Rule, which provides guidance and directives for managing the country’s 155 national forests and 20 grasslands encompassing 193 million acres. The courts have rejected previous versions of the Planning Rule in recent years. SEMA joined with a number of other organizations representing the off-road community in opposing the latest version on grounds that it does not adequately protect access for motorized recreation and will be a source of ongoing litigation. The issue is of importance to SEMA-member companies that market products to the off-road community based on the consumers’ ability to have access to Forest Service roads and trails. Forest managers will now begin applying the rule’s guidelines as they gradually update management rules for each individual forest and grassland.
Bonneville Salt FlatsThe U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a final Environmental Assessment (EA) for replenishing salt to the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF). The BLM adopted the approach recommended by SEMA and other organizations that are members of the Save the Salt Coalition. The EA requires a permanent replenishment program that guarantees the same quantity and quality of salt is returned to the BSF as is removed under an existing potash mining lease agreement. The mining company has already exceeded the EA requirements, pumping nearly 1 million tons of salt onto the BSF over the past two years without removing any salt from the same area. SEMA and the coalition are now pursuing a public fundraising campaign to go beyond simple replenishment so that the BSF can be restored with millions of tons of additional salt necessary to achieve the goal. All contributions will be used to purchase salt and the equipment necessary to pump, transport and lay down the salt.
Save Johnson ValleySEMA has recommended that the U.S. Marines Corps secure special-use permits from the BLM when conducting troop maneuvers within Johnson Valley, California, rather than take ownership of the land as part of an expanded Twentynine Palms base. The BLM land is a designated off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation area and site of “King of the Hammers” and other OHV events throughout the year. The Marines need access to Johnson Valley for less than two months a year but are seeking ownership rights from the BLM for 56% of the land (147,000 acres). The Marines have proposed providing limited access to only 40,000 acres of that land for OHV activities during 10 months of the year. Any land transfer requires Congressional approval. Congress is considering legislation that will require the Marines to study alternative ways to share the land with the OHV community, potentially to include special permits. The Johnson Valley off-road area draws at least 200,000 visitors annually and may generate as much as $191 million annually into the economy.