As I prepare an outline for this month’s newsletter, the news is
playing in the background with an update on the passage of Hurricane Harvey
through Texas and now Louisiana. Upwards of 50 inches of rain has fallen
in some areas of Houston. Simply unimaginable except for those who have
had to wade through the water to find a point of safety.
There is so much suffering for people of all ages. This storm hasn’t been
choosey on which neighborhoods to inundate with high water. Private
homes, hospitals, nursing homes and schools have all been flooded. The
first responders are performing heroically, but the plea for help has been so
overwhelming that Houston city officials have called on private citizens with
boats to help in the rescue effort.
The ‘Cajun Navy,” a group of private citizens from Louisiana, have driven to
Texas with their recreational boats attached to their trucks, to lend a hand to
the first responders in rescuing people at such a critical time.
Heartwarming examples of neighbors helping each other in a time of need.
Financial Challenges Generate Heat
This isn’t about the weather, but
rather the political temperature of things to come in the Nation’s Capital and
the serious financial challenges that lie ahead. We have been
anticipating a difficult time in September given the fact that the new fiscal
year begins on October 1st and the appropriations process to fund
the federal government is far from complete. Congress will have to pass a
Continuing Resolution (CR) to provide short term funding for federal agencies
until more permanent decisions can be made on funding levels. Also
looming is the need to raise the debt ceiling no later than the 2ndweek of October, an issue that could be very controversial, as it has in the
New Chief of the Forest Service
The current chief, Tom Tidwell,
is retiring after 40 years of service at the Forest Service. Secretary of
Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that he would be appointing Tony Tooke, the
regional forester for the Southern Region, to replace Tidwell as the new chief
of the agency.
National Monument Recommendations
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted his recommendations
to the President after completing a review of National Monument
designations. While we know the recommendations were submitted to
the White House, the details are sketchy at best. What is known is that
Zinke did not recommend the revocation of any existing National Monument
designations but that he has suggested some boundary adjustments to some
monuments. He specifically mentioned earlier that the Bears Ears National
Monument in Utah would be one of those slated for a boundary adjustment.
The full extent of the Secretary’s recommendations are unlikely to be known for
certain until after the President makes his final decisions. We hope that
by the next newsletter we will have more to report.
Department of the Interior Reorganization (DOI)
Secretary Zinke is apparently giving serious thought to moving the
headquarters of three DOI agencies out of Washington and closer to the public
lands they manage. Denver seems to be the likely site for the
relocation. The Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service,
the Bureau of Reclamation are the agencies affected. There is already
some opposition being generated against this move though Zinke will likely
maintain that this is a part of an overall effort to streamline and make the
department more efficient and effective in fulfilling its
responsibilities. We are awaiting a final decision from the Secretary on
this reorganization plan. Depending upon the scope, it’s possible the
Congress will get involved before the plan can be implemented.
NOHVCC Annual Conference
The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) just
completed its annual conference, held this year in Manchester, New
Hampshire. ARRA tries to participate in these annual conferences because
it is always important to be reminded of NOHVCC’s ongoing efforts to encourage
the creation of sustainable OHV trails on private, state and federal
lands. OHV enthusiasts, state and federal land managers and OHV industry
representatives gathered for several days to exchange the latest information on
how to get more Americans connected to the great outdoors in a safe and
sustainable fashion. NOHVCC does a great job of facilitating the exchange
of ideas and in fostering cooperation among a variety of entities and this
conference was no exception.
Larry E. Smith
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access