ORIG. SENT ON BRC LETTERHEAD
(Sent via FAX, Email, and U.S. Mail)
May 12, 2004
Gale Norton, Secretary
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary
18th and C Street, N. W.
Washington, DC 20240
Re: Center for Biological Diversityâ€™s April 23, 2004 Petition to List the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly
Dear Secretary Norton:
This letter is submitted on behalf of the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national non-profit recreation and trail-access group, that champions responsible use of public and private lands. Our comments are in response to
the Center for Biological Diversityâ€™s (CBD) et al. , April 23, 2004, petition to list the Sand Mountain blue butterfly (Euphilotes pallescens arenamontana) as a threatened or endangered species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16, U.S.C 1531 et seq. And, in response to the petitioners request that critical habitat be designated for the Sand Mountain blue butterfly.
BRC requests that you deny CBD's petition to list the Sand Mountain blue Butterfly for the following reasons.
ISSUE ONE: INACCURATE STATEMENT REGARDING â€œNO REGULATORY MECHANISMSâ€
On page 5, CBD misstates, â€œOff-road vehicles are an immediate threat to these butterflies and there are no regulatory mechanisms to protect them or their habitat.â€
BRC argues that there are existing â€œregulatory mechanismsâ€ in 43 CFR 8364.1 to protect resources: TITLE 43--PUBLIC LANDS: INTERIOR CHAPTER II--BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR PART 8360--VISITOR SERVICES--Table of Contents Subpart 8364--Closures and Restrictions Sec. 8364.1 Closure and restriction orders. (a) To protect persons, property, and public lands and resources, the authorized officer may issue an order to close or restrict use of designated public lands. (b) Each order shall: (1) Identify the public lands, roads, trails or waterways that are closed to entry or restricted as to use; (2) Specify the uses that are restricted; (3) Specify the period of time during which the closure or restriction shall apply; (4) Identify those persons who are exempt from the closure or restrictions; (5) Be posted in the local Bureau of Land Management Office having jurisdiction over the lands to which the order applies; (6) Be posted at places near and/or within the area to which the closure or restriction applies, in such manner and location as is reasonable to bring prohibitions to the attention of users; (7) Include a statement on the reasons for the closure; and (c) In issuing orders pursuant to this section, the authorized officer shall publish them in the Federal Register. (d) Any person who fails to comply with a closure or restriction order issued under this subpart may be subject to the penalties provided in Sec. 8360.0-7 of this title.
ISSUE TWO: INACCURATE STATEMENT[S] REGARDING OHV GROUP POSITIONS ON CLOSURES
CBD misstates the position of off-highway vehicle (OHV) groups regarding closures, and hence management prescriptions, at the Sand Mountain Recreation Area (SMRA). On page 18, CBD states, â€œ...off-road industry groups were unwilling to consider any closure, demanding the entire SMRA be open to intensive off-roading.â€
BRC filed numerous communications (see attached exhibits A,B,C ) in 2003 - plus on-the ground field tours with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff - with BLM where we offered various management solutions that includes; signing an encouraged route system in the affected dune mat, consult with Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management OHV Master Performers (i.e. trail experts) on trail layout and design, implement exclosures of affected Kearney Buckwheat populations, strengthen existing public signing program, etc.)
ISSUE THREE: INACCURATE STATEMENT REGARDING BLM MANAGEMENT ACTIONS
On page 21, CBD wrongly states, â€œ...if BLM continues to bow under pressure from the ORV industry, they will not employ any actions that would restrict ORV use in the SMRA.â€
BRC argues that BLM, indeed, has started working on a management prescription (see attached BLM News Release - July 21, 2003- exhibit D) where they lay out both short-term and long-term planning efforts for OHV management at SMRA. And contrary to CBD assertions, BRC and other OHV user groups are willing (see attached exhibits A,B,C) to help the BLM better manage SMRA for both resources and recreation.
BRC believes that major portions of the petition are based solely, or in part, on inaccurate information as outlined in the aforementioned issue discussions. BRC believes that factually incorrect statements made in the petition seriously undermines its credibility. Again, BRC asks your office to deny the petition to list affected species.
BRC requests that it be listed as a stakeholder in the public process association with said petition. And, BRC requests that it receive any and all copies of communications between the petitioners and agencies of the Department of Interior.
/s/ DON AMADOR
BlueRibbon Coalition, Inc.
555 Honey Lane
Oakley, CA 94561
Attachments: Exhibit A - BRC May 6, 2003 Letter to John Singlaub/BLM
Exhibit B - BRC July 9, 2003 Letter to John Singlaub/BLM
Exhibit C - September 4, 2003 Letter to John Singlaub/BLM
Exhibit D - BLM July 21, 2003 News Release