Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ely BLM says "Need to Consult with Ranchers" Concerning Auto-race Permits

Funny how the welfare ranchers have a say in everything the BLM does or proposes to do, while our comments are ignored and the public is blocked out of anything to do with policy;

Lincoln County Requests BLM to increase Truck & Buggy Races By Dave Maxwell

Concerns have been expressed by members of the Tri-County Management group, that recent changes in the Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan (RMP) will restrict the number of competitive truck events that can be held within the district in one calendar year.

Lincoln County Commissioner Ronda Hornbeck spoke about the issue at the regular meeting of the Commission October 5 and said the BLM is saying they will only allow two races per year through the RMP. "Right now there are three applications in," she said. "Two of them (Best in the Desert and S.N.O.R.E.), have been historical applications and have been in for years and years requesting that they have these races. There is a third one that did come in from Utah."

She said the new application is from a small group, Bonneville Off-Road LLC, of Alpine, Utah, and usually does not bring in very many racers, possibly as few as 20. County Commissioners drafted a letter of official request to Rosemary Thomas, District Manager, BLM Ely District, "requesting an amendment to the RPM which states the maximum number of competitive truck events per calendar year be increased to four. This number matches the number of approved truck races (REC 15) that could be utilized." Hornbeck said BLM asked Lincoln County to put a letter together so they could possibly change the Resource Management Plan, at the request of the County.

The letter as originally written called for four races to be allowed in one calendar year, but after discussion, Commissioners voted to settle on a request of three races. Commissioner Tommy Rowe wanted to send the letter requesting four races, but was outvoted 3-1. However, he did vote in favor of sending the letter amending the initial request to only three races. "Three races would bring in everybody that's applied right now," Hornbeck said, "and gives them one rotation."

From the beginning, she was not in favor of increasing the number to four, "If they do a total number of 12 races a year, then does that cut down on the amount of races that could be done through motorcycles?" BLM has not specified how many motorcycles races would be permitted.

Commissioner Rowe pointed out there could be no discrimination shown in giving support to the applicants, "between old grandfathered racers and new ones applying."
The potential problem that might be faced, Commissioners noted, is that if only two races are granted through a draw, and three keep applying and the one with the smallest number of racers is selected instead, "You could lose 250 racers to 20 racers."

Commission Chair Paul Mathews said he felt the members of the grazing board, and other interested parties, ought to be consulted on the matter as well. "Some of the ranchers and other people are pretty happy with two, but if we, without their consultation, say we like four better. I think it's a balance between the businesses and the effected people." Commissioner Rowe agreed ranchers needed to be consulted, but favored sending the letter to BLM first, then a comment period would be added where ranchers' input could be heard.

Mathews said he was also concerned about times when the racers have posed what he called a "menace to public safety," and cited a couple of instances he observed personally during the last Best in the Desert race.

District Attorney Greg Barlow pointed out that in matters of public safety, the County should have it well defined as to what steps the race organizers must take in order to be granted a permit. "Pay attention to the race route, for impact to the public, to the ranchers, for whatever is happening, to be sure that they handle this. This is their responsibility, but the control rests with us in granting them the privilege of that race," he said.

Connie Simkins, Secretary of the N4 Grazing Board said she thought ranchers would like to have a small number of races be permitted, primarily "because of the impact to the roads."

Rowe said an increase in the number of races allowed would mean the County would have to be very sure things are mitigated to be fixed afterwards, and if they are not, the racing group could be denied for approval on their next application.

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