Monday, November 21, 2016

Perfect Storm Mummifies Forest Timber/Fuel Program

2012 Post Mill Fire Viewshed/Resource Impacts 
M5 - Mendocino NF

Op Ed
By Don Amador
November 21, 2016

Perfect Storm Mummifies Forest Timber/Fuel Program

I believe Californians are facing an environmental disaster of biblical proportions based on recent media accounts and surveys that detail over 100 million dead and dying trees currently exist on federal timber lands.

As a native Californian, I witnessed the creation of a complex set of factors that have mummified the fuel/fire/timber management programs of most land agencies. 

2012 Mill Fire - System Trail Closed 
Mendocino NF

Over the last 30 years, a massive regulatory wet-blanket has been cast over the federal timber and fuel programs.  That “perfect storm” of factors presented in an academic manner include: litigation, court decisions, budget cutbacks, restrictive policies, environmental regulations, legislation, closure of sawmills, and political agendas.

2013 Rim Fire - Route/Area Closure
Stanislaus NF

The trail-based recreation community has a lot to lose in this high stakes game of gridlocked forest management and the resultant Mega-fires that consume lives, property, wildlife, natural resources, and recreation-related facilities and opportunities.

2014 King Fire - Viewshed/Resource Impacts from FS Road
Eldorado NF

Outdoor recreationists have good case studies in recent years of how Mega-fires (e.g. Mill Fire, Rim Fire, King Fire, etc.) impact designated trails and related soil loss mitigation structures, campgrounds, staging areas, visual enjoyment, and often close the fire’s footprint to all public entry for one year or more. 

2012 Mill Fire - One Year Closure to All Public Entry
Mendocino NF

Post-fire recreation rehabilitation can cost millions of dollars.  Designated roads, trails, trail delineators, kiosks, signs, and trail-based soil loss structures often have to be replaced or reconstructed.

2012 Mill Fire - Post Fire Volunteer Project Installing Route Delineators
Mendocino NF

Agency staff and volunteers must be committed to clearing downed trees off of routes for the next 10-20 years post-fire.

2012 Mill Fire - Post Fire Trail Clearing
Mendocino NF

I am glad to see the Forest Service is looking to redirect funds to protect or armor roads, trails, and recreation facilities.

Fuel/Forest Health Project
Sierra NF

Given the limited amount of staff resources and funding available, I support the agency’s focus on recreation-based pre-disaster fuel reduction projects.

Prescribed Fire Project

I have also rededicated myself to helping facilitate those fuel reduction efforts on federal timber lands by working with the agency and various stakeholder groups.  The status quo is simply not acceptable any longer.

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Don Amador writes on environmental and recreation issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  He may be reached via email at:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

BLM Focused on High Quality OHV Experience at Nor Cal Recreation Area

By Don Amador
Date: 11/8/16

Bright Future for BLM OHV Area in CA Coastal Mountain Range

In 2006, the NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COASTAL WILD HERITAGE WILDERNESS ACT established the Cow Mountain Recreation Area.  This was the first congressional designation of lands that codified OHV use by stating: Motorized recreation shall be a prescribed use within the South Cow Mountain OHV Management Area.

I give a lot of credit to Congressmen Mike Thompson and Richard Pombo for crafting up a bill that continues to be a great example of bipartisan land use “win-win” legislation that serves both the motorized and non-motorized recreation communities.

According to the BLM, the South Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area (CMRA) emphasizes off-highway vehicle use.  Over 120 miles of vehicle trails interweave 23,000 acres, and offer challenges to motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle, and four-wheel drive enthusiasts alike.

BLM Recreation Lead, Sarah Mathews, Checks Spark Arrestor at Event

The North Bay Motorcycle Club also holds several permitted motorcycle events on that unit.

BLM State Director, Jerry Perez (L), and Don Amador on SxS Tour

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a field trip-based 10th year anniversary celebration of that designation with the CA BLM State Director, Jerry Perez, BLM Deputy State Director, Joe Stout, Ukiah Field Office Manager, Amanda James, Ukiah Field Office Recreation Planner, Sarah Mathews, Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Manager, Rebecca Carr Wong, BLM State Office Public Affairs Officer, Dave Christy, and the Mendocino 4x4 Club.

We discussed the various partnerships that have developed over the years which help support the agency’s effort to provide high-quality OHV recreation.  I believe it is because of those partnerships and collaborative efforts that created momentum for the BLM to acquire the 1,391 acre Blue Oak Ranch along the Highway 175 corridor to provide much needed high quality public access to the area.

Mendocino 4x4 Club Explains Volunteer Efforts

This new land acquisition will provide substantive parking for RVs and trailers.  Currently, there is very limited camping and staging to the CMRA.   The acquisition will help the area realize its full potential as a world-class destination recreation site.

BLM Deputy State Director, Joe Stout (L), and Don Amador Enjoy SxS Tour

It was great to spend time on the trail with BLM leadership and local users.  I continue to believe that relationships and partnerships will continue to be the cornerstone upon which quality OHV programs are built.

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Don Amador writes on recreation and land-use issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  Don is a contractor to the BlueRibbon Coalition/ and serves as their Western Representative.  Don is also president of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting.   Don may be reached via email at: