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BLM - Needles Field Office

 The California Wilderness Coalition strongly supports the Needles Field Office’s 2009-2010 grant application proposals for Cooperative Agreements with the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Division of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. We believe that the proposals reflect the Needles Field Office’s ongoing commitment to maintain an OHV program that balances recreational opportunities with ecological safeguards.
We are particularly pleased by the restoration grant request to construct barriers adjacent to the Cadiz Dunes Wilderness and to implement a Wilderness Monitoring Strategy. The proposed construction of a post-and-cable barrier adjacent to the Cadiz Dunes Wilderness is important because it will clearly delineate the boundary with the OHV recreation area and prevent damage to the fragile dune ecosystem. On-going monitoring is needed to identify where resource damage is occurring, and our hope is that the proposed monitoring strategy will provide a standardized protocol for measuring impacts on wilderness qualities.
Additional aspects of the Needles Field Office’s proposal that we feel are needed to protect the natural and cultural resources of the region include installing signs, conducting Visitor Use Studies, producing a public access map to help OHV users comply with route designations, and installing vehicle counters and surveillance cameras along routes with high levels of illegal intrusion. We also support the request for $139,500 in law enforcement funds to protect the Field Office’s 18 wilderness areas, 13 Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, and other sensitive habitats.
If you need volunteers to help implement these or other projects, please do not hesitate to contact us. [Sean Baumgarten - 4/2/10]

 Everyone asking for Grant money does it with honorable intentions to manage our public lands , provide sustainable recreation and protect resources.  I agree with all of that and am not one to say "do not fund"  but there are exceptions from my point of view. 
In reviewing these grants for 2009/2010  It it is alarming how the % of actual work on the ground changes from one agency to another.  From experience I would like to see no more than 5% of the grant request for staff under Ground Operation go to management.   The key to sustainable recreation on our public lands are for our grant money to be spent on the ground.  
Every single grantee should be preaching "Stay on Designated Trail"   regardless what your job is, it is the responsibility of every person involved with OHV that this message has to pushed.
Every single grantee should encourage those that are law abiding citizens to put pressure on the "Willfully Ignorant" to change their way so that we can have a "Sustainable OHV recreation"  for future generations. 
Lastly I want to thank every single person involved in working on  OHV recreation for your time and dedication. [Ed Waldheim "OHV activist for access to public lands for all" - 3/28/10]

 Every single Law Enforcement grant should have a commitment and focus to catch the "Willfully Ignorant" visitor.  We see every day folks doing what ever they want and they feel immune  because it is their feeling "there is no one around to catch me"    That has to change.  Yes, we have Green Sticker Violations, sound violations, and other normal day to day violations that by now should be all in compliance.  It is the "Willfully Ignorant " that does not abide by the rules of the areas they ride in, i.e. "Stay on Designated Trails " "Respect Private Property"   "Know the rules of area you are riding in "  be it Forest Service, BLM, City and County.  All of us can put pressure on the "Willfully Ignorant" but it is Law Enforcement that needs to focus their talent to those that want to ruin it for everyone.  We can not let them rule our destiny or how we are being portrait in the eyes of the public and government elected officials.   
The other area of grave concern is our children, we need to make sure that all children 16 and under on Quads have the proper certification. We need to make sure that they are properly dressed to ride, no tank tops, tennis shoes and short pants.   Parents need to be told of their responsibility in the strongest possible manner, ticket. 

Thank you all for working this very difficult issue.  [Ed Waldheim "OHV activist for access to  public lands for all" - 3/28/10]

 Wow, $1,131 Million dollars.  176,000 Visitors and 3200 miles of OHV opportunity.  
Ground operation:  You show $137,640 in wages, of that $110.680 is for actual ground work.  about 13% not bad, however is there no trail work done.  It seems that most work is on signing of "Designated Trails" which is fine, but did you not do that last year also.  So what is the sequence, or order of signing to be done in Needles Field office? What was done with last year grant and what areas will be signed this year.
With the order of 1500 fiberglass post you are on the right track to do the signing, however you are paying $20 for these post and you should not pay more than $10.45 for these post.  You are on the high side on decals, but who is counting.  
GPS  units 7, GPS soft ware, etc you are over the top.   There seems to be a trend with agencies to buy buy buy these units, and then next year we buy again. There is no organized system from field off to field office as to the method used to monitor with GPS, how this is to be organized, and how the public can access it.  How will we sustain our recreation without any organized method to collect data. It seems each office does their own thing. Sacramento, should have had this under control years ago.  One piece of equipment per office, one program per field office, and one central point to collect all this data. Now it is all over the place and frankly I think we are waiting dollars unless it can be proven there is a coordinated effort on GPS systems, a system the OHV division can draw on to make their own conclusions if we are spending our OHV grant money wisely. 
Equipment. Power dump truck, what is this for? 
Conservation crew $20,000  what are they going to do under Ground operation, should this not be under restoration? 
Law enforcement:  10,000 hours , now that could not possibly be correct.  WE are talking about OHV patrol and law enforcement and you can not possibly do that with 176,000 visitors.    night Vision Goggles for $8,000 seems like this is INS  work, not OHV work.
Planning Inventories: This is over the top.  $200,000 for university, and $20,000 in indirect cost and all those vehicles to tell me who is coming to Needles.   Lets face it, we are 268 miles from  Los Angeles ,  Not likely to be the getting the impact of visitors as Barstow, Ridgecrest or El Centro would get.  This grant is not cost effective way to use OHV funds.  If you want to know who your visitors are,take their zip code when they visit the office, or when staff is out in the field, and it will cost you a few minutes.  I can provide the program to put the zip codes in as I have done for other recreation areas.   I say no on this grant
Restoration.  This again is hard to figure out exactly what area you plan on restoring. It is too general siting university methods etc etc.   You have an Illigal trail or not, you close it.  You have a intrusion into wilderness, then catch the guys and put them in jail and make them pay for damage.  3 miles of fence, OK, it does not have to be post and cable, there are other ways in doing this, and besides  Law enforcement is the key here.   Also Wilderness has been created by congress, and they have set aside funding for this in large amounts of money, there is no opportunity for OHV thus it should be carrying the burden on its shoulder. There is no description of what number of dollars comes from other sources?    This grant has to be better explained.
Education :  Oh boy.  I can remember when Needles was the only Field office that had an education program for schools, and I was very supportive of it and still am, but $134,512 grant and total $279,726 is again over the top.  This has gotten way out of hand.   This budget is big enough to set up a pre-school, and I do not think that is what we are here to do.   Going to schools once or twice a year is sufficient.  This grant should be pared down to $50,000 for contact with school. 
Sorry I have to be so blunt, but as you go through all these grants I find it harder and harder to figure out exactly what is the OHV program doing, supplementing the wages for BLM and the Forest Service, or are we not to augment the OHV program with on the ground work, law enforcement and educating those that recreate on public land.  Working in schools is admirable, but it has to be cost effective and it has to be a state wide message, something that we have been lacking for years.  (no fault of this applicant.) [Ed Waldheim "OHV activist for access to public lands for all" - 3/27/10]

 I would like to comment on the Needles BLM district OHV grant applications.  I would like to get out and tour the area to see how this area can justify over $1.1 million in grants.  One for $200,000 to study OHV?  There must be a cheaper way to figure out who is going where.  Most of the grants seem reasonable except that with no open areas, this seems like an awful lot of money to spend. [Ed Stovin, CORVA - 3/28/10]

 Please do not give any state money to a federal agency to close our public land to us.  I whole heartedly reject what the federal government is doing to our lands.  They are tying to kill local economies and discourage people from living free.  It appears as if they all want us to sit and a desk and enjoy the forest on a screensaver. [Casey Crandall - 3/11/10]