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10-26-2005, 11:13 AM
SEMA Driving Force - November 2005


House Passes Endangered Species Reform Bill

Off-roaders cleared a key hurdle in reforming the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as the House of Representatives approved legislation to update the 30-year old law. Sponsored by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA), the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005 (TESRA) passed on 229-193 margin. The bill is a product of years of hearings and scientific research and would place the focus on species recovery while also giving local communities incentives to cooperate with federal rules. The SAN has made passage of the ESA reform bill a legislative priority. The existing law has eliminated access to millions of acres of land, including many roads and trails responsibly enjoyed by off-highway (OHV) enthusiasts, while providing little benefit for species.

Among the changes included in the bill is the replacing of critical habitat programs with proactive species recovery plans. In drafting recovery plans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must set criteria for how the species could be taken off the list; establish site-specific guidelines to achieve delisting; provide time and cost estimates; and where needed, acquire “specific areas that are of special value” to the species. The current law does not specify any time frame in developing recovery plans.

The reform measure also contained language which would provide financial incentives equal to fair market value to private property owners if development on the property would harm an endangered species. In having to consider the financial implication of land designation, the federal government would be required to prioritize decisions regarding species protection. Supporters of the measure beat back an amendment on the House floor which would have removed the landowner provisions. During the debate, Pombo commented that 90 percent of endangered species are on private property and should be involved in any attempt to reform the ESA.

The bill also calls for the use of the best available scientific data in determining species' status. Other features of the bill include enhancing the role of state and local governments in the decision making process and increasing the openness and accountability of the agencies involved in the designation process.

The bill now moves to the Senate where Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee Chairman Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) has called for a study of “critical habitat” and the designation of areas set aside for listed species. Chafee has also indicated that the subcommittee is waiting for recommendations from industry and environmental stakeholders who are currently meeting to produce recommendations on an effective program which balances species protection while respecting private property rights. It is anticipated the report will be released in February 2006.

Forest Service to Increase OHV Use in Southern California Wilderness

Following recommendations made by the SAN, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced new land management plans for four Southern California national forests which would open up more back country trails to off-highway vehicles (OHVs). The management plan for the Angeles, Cleveland , Los Padres and San Bernardino national forests allocates an additional 87,000 acres of land that the agency will recommend for wilderness protection. If approved by Congress, that would increase the total wilderness area within the four forests to nearly 1.2 million acres, more than one-third of the parks' combined 3.5 million acres.

The new plans identify approximately 25 percent of the inventoried roadless areas where OHV use will be permitted, but only on a limited number of designated roads and trails. In its comments to USFS, the SAN noted that most of this acreage already had some form of OHV use. The new plans also address so-called “user-created” trails and where appropriate will add these routes to the system. USFS officials stressed that the 25-percent figure does not allow for free reign by OHV users, and details regarding specific trail systems will come at a later date.

Each forest will host several open houses in October to help people learn more about the new plans. Additional information regarding the management plan, including a schedule of
open house meetings can be accessed at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/scfpr/projects/lmp/.

Virginia Youth Taking Message to the Streets

By Brooke Anderson
Program Manager, YOVASO

Young people in Virginia are speaking out about one of the biggest issues facing them today. Whether it's distractions, speeding, or running off the road, traffic crashes remain the number one killer of teenagers. Youth of Virginia Speak Out (YOVASO) About Traffic Safety works to educate, encourage, and empower teenagers to be advocates for safe driving. YOVASO provides specialized training, resources, and support to assist high school groups in starting traffic safety initiatives in their schools. YOVASO groups have also presented mock traffic crashes, elementary school projects, traffic safety awareness weeks, and community safety events.

The entire idea behind YOVASO is that peer to peer education is the most effective way to establish safe driving practices among teenagers. Nearly every aspect of YOVASO, including the name, were all designed by youth. Youth work in the YOVASO office in Roanoke , Virginia as interns, and can be youth leaders at the two retreats held each year. Some have even gone on to become regional trainers in various parts of the state while attending college.

YOVASO is currently established in almost fifty schools throughout southwestern Virginia . The program is now expanding into the Tidewater, Shenandoah, and northern Virginia regions. For more information, please visit www.yovaso.org.


November 5, Chandler
2nd Annual 5 & Diner Shiner All-Chevy Show
Sponsor: Arizona Impalas
Information: www.arizonaimpalas.com or 623/792-7508

November 6, Mesa
Karl's Custom Show and Swap
Information: volksworks@cox.net

November 19-22, Scottsdale
8th Southwest Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys
Information: www.good-guys.com or 925/838-9876

Newly Introduced Legislation

Note: The following state bills are not laws. They were recently introduced and are currently under consideration by the respective state legislatures:

Michigan SB 786: Increases fines for violation of materials or objects obstructing the vision of the driver in a motor vehicle, including window tint. Vehicles must be certified by a law enforcement agency before fines can be paid.

New Hampshire LSR 2120: Requires vehicles to be equipped with a useable spare tire.

New Hampshire LSR 2121: Prohibits the use of hand held mobile telephones by drivers.

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