News - September 2006
from PDAC Executive Director Jerry Abboud
Checker Gets New Dealer License
Checker Auto has been granted a new vehicle dealer license to sell new motor vehicles. New competitors are always welcome in Colorado, however, there are some unanswered questions regarding locations and parts and warranty service.
There are numerous statutory and regulatory requirements that PDAC members regularly meet in the requirements set out under Colorado Law. We sincerely hope that the newest player is intone with all the requirements.
White River Travel Plan Hits the Streets
After years of struggle in the development of the White River Forest Plan, one I not so affectionately refer to as the Ski Colorado/Wealthy Trust Funders Plan, we have a new Forest Supervisor and a current Transportation Planner who provide glimmers of hope for some reasonable motorized recreational opportunities.
Don Riggles of the Colorado 500 and I have had a number of meetings before and after the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the White River Travel Management Plan. Right now we are discussing user created/social trails and maximizing opportunities. Below is a brief identification of the alternatives. At this point, pending review of the maps, inclusion of user created/social routes Alternatives C and D are the ones to focus on for our purpose.
Please remember as you become involved in this process, the document states with some conviction that "(A)lternative D was identified as the preferred alternative, however the forest will consider all aspects in part or in whole of the other alternatives when formulating the final decision". To that I will add that the trails not appearing on the maps ought to be pointed out immediately to the District and the Transportation Planner to request inclusion and consideration. I will continue to argue the Travel Management Rule applies and the process is subject to consideration of routes the agency failed to consider.
Whether or not you have attended the five open houses on the various districts that run from August 8th thru August 23rd, get the maps and send in comments as soon as possible on your route preferences. Snowmobilers this includes you. You may obtain a copy of the DEIS and maps on disc by contacting Wendy Haskins, Transportation Planner, at 970.945.3303, if you must have a personal copy.
More readily accessible are the documents and maps for the plan located at:
WHERE TO SEND OFFICIAL COMMENTS
Send written comments to:
WRNF Travel Management Plan and DEIS c/o Content Analysis Group
P.O. Box 2000
Bountiful, UT 84011-2000
Comments are due 90 days from July 28, 2006
PLEASE NOTE YOU MUST STILL IDENTIFY THOSE ROUTES THAT ARE NOT ON THE MAPS BUT EXIST FOR THE DISTRICT AND THE PLANNERS OFFICE WITHIN THE COMMENT PERIOD. IT IS NOT CLEAR UNDER THE TRAVEL MANAGEMENT RULE AS TO WHEN PUBLIC PARTICIPATION BEGINS, IT IS HOWEVER CLEAR THAT THE FS DISTRICTS ARE THE PUBLICS POINT OF CONTACT.
So, in addition to sending all your complete comments including site-specific road and trail information on the alternatives to Utah, get your site-specific road and trail information to your District(s) ASAP.
Brief Info About WRNF Travel Plan Alternatives And Decisions To Be Made
The WRNF developed four theme-based alternatives including the no-action alternative that is used primarily for comparison and contrast (the no-action alternative is not a viable alternative for the WRNF).
The WRNF Alternative D was identified as the preferred; however, the forest will consider all aspects in part or in whole of the other alternatives when formulating the final decision.
The alternatives and themes are:
1) No-action Alternative B - This alternative considers the minimum actions needed to bring the forest travel system into compliance with forest plan direction. This alternative was developed to create a feasible baseline for estimating effects of other alternatives.
2) Alternative C - This alternative considers optimizing the forest's travel system. It takes advantage of accommodating recreation for more users where possible. It emphasizes shared use and optimization of available facilities, thus providing for a greater capacity for recreation across the forest.
3) Alternative D - This alternative considers the experience of the recreational user, even some exclusive use. It emphasizes reducing recreation conflicts among users and providing a more sustainable program in the long term.
4) Alternative E - This alternative considers emphasizing natural resource and habitat values while still considering recreation utilization.
Decisions to be made:
1) Designation of the summer road and trail system;
1a) Defining designated, forest roads and trails;
1b) Defining what modes of travel are accepted on each road and trail;
1c) Deciding whether to incorporate or rehabilitate unauthorized routes;
1d) Determining if certain forest routes are no longer needed as part of the system and schedule those for decommissioning.
2) Designation of winter uses;
2a) Determining winter area strategies for allowable winter activities;
2b) Defining routes and play areas for winter areas.
The NEPA Process and Motorized Recreation
Many of you hear about planning on National Forest Lands and Bureau of Land Management lands. Here is insight into a complex and often flawed process.
There will always be the struggle of the objective over the subjective and it's opposite...at least until our brains are comprised of microchips. No way to avoid it, no way around it. As "scientific" as the process has become, when dealing with public land planning, the system boils down to nothing more than one or a few people's vision of how public lands should be used. But how can this be when we have a fair and balanced process concerning the environment, or at least that's what I have always been told by agency folks.
In 1969 we were blessed with the National Environmental Policy Act-NEPA. It was suppose to put man and his environment in harmony without damage to the environment. Yes, they forgot the part about the damage to man. NEPA is a procedural statute and that means it provides you with a set of directives as to how the Federal Government should proceed when the impact of the action significantly affects the quality of the human environment.
Now in order to determine if the impact is "significant" and the agency is not always sure you must prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA), unless it's already been determined that an Environmental Impact Statement is required. (A Forest Plan Revision is an example) The EA will thus result in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or move to step 2 and do an EIS. If it's a FONSI then NEPA does not apply.
Scoping (issue identification) begins the process, after that, drafts are proposed with alternative actions, public comment is taken and the final EA or EIS is published with a Record of Decision. That is a really brief description, but adequate for our purposes.
But hey wait a minute, home come we lose thousands of miles of trails and roads in both the EA's and EIS's?
Well, it's like this; we get run through the "motorized" filter. That includes impacts to the watershed (hydrologists), soils (geologists), habitat (landscape architects, botanists and biologists), wildlife (biologists, zoologists), dead people (archaeologists) and dead animals (paleontologists). On our side is, ah, fun, raising children and stress relief. Now in fairness, there are two Executive Orders that have been used to bring greater scrutiny to motorized recreation, but all of the ologists above still apply to ALL recreation.
I am puzzled...thousands of hikers with dogs scaring the hell out of elk, mountain bikes that proliferate trails as readily as any OHVs and horses that act like road graders, and ski areas with millions of visitors, yet the reduction in mileage for these users is nowhere close to our loses, particularly for the sacred act of hiking.
And why oh why does NEPA discuss the application of mitigating measures to lesson the impacts of the action (motorized recreation in our case)? For example, they can spell out mitigation instructions: harden stream crossing, seasonal closure, or re-route if they choose. Maybe the money we provide for trail and roadwork ought to be calculated as mitigation. In an EA, if the agency can mitigate the action they don't have to do an EIS and it assists in a Finding of No Significant Impact. With motorized, they just close it to get there, who needs mitigation. They are much better at mitigation when a big dollar ski area is involved.
I am expressing frustration with the system for a purpose. The implementation of the Travel Management Rule is upon us. In almost every case we will be dealing with the analysis of either a draft EIS or possibly an EA where districts are involved.
One more thing, do not fall into the trap of believing this is an ongoing, evolving process of expanding opportunities. Yeah, the Rule says it is, but count the number of federal agency actions in the last 15 years that gave you more mileage or quality opportunities. This is the one process where no one in the motorized community can afford to be MIA.
Issues 2005 - 2006
A wide variety of legislative and regulatory issues can affect the powersports business and riding environment in Colorado every year.
Sometimes for better, but often times for worse, legislation is introduced that can directly or indirectly enhance, or much more likely, detract from our ability to grow our businesses in a profitable manner as we maintain our high standards of quality and customer service. Often, new laws have intended or unintended consequences that literally threaten to put retailers out of business or their consumers out of the market.
Similarly, state, federal and local bureaucratic agencies and departments are constantly proposing and implementing new rules and regulations that are too frequently aimed at restricting riding access on public lands, increasing usage fees or restricting/redefining appropriate off-road vehicle use. Well-funded environmental and conservation groups are constantly pressuring regulatory authorities to clamp down on riders and shut down public riding areas, despite the on-going efforts of responsible riders.
The Powersports Dealers Association of Colorado is dedicated to providing a positive influence in supporting legislation that will benefit its members and their customers, and in opposing legislation that might have the opposite effect. We are also determined to keep an eye on the various regulatory agencies in order to make sure our members' voices and opinions are heard during the regulatory process. Working with like-minded organizations such as COHVCO and the Blue Ribbon Coalition, PDAC will be a watchdog and an advocate for sensible legislation and regulation affecting powersports retailers and riders in Colorado.
Here are a few of the issues that we are currently addressing:
Legislators in the next session plan to introduce a bill to reinstate Colorado's No-Fault insurance coverage, including a personal injury protection requirement (PIP). If motorcycle riders are not excluded from the PIP requirement and this legislation passes, insurance rates for street bikes will skyrocket and sales for street bikes will plummet.
A move is afoot among several legislators and political subdivisions to introduce legislation that would title ATVs and other off-road vehicles such as dirt and trail bikes. While a move to titling off-road vehicles contains some potentially positive elements (especially strengthening the machines' collateral value and sales tax reform), a poorly drafted bill could go so far as to legalize ATVs for street use, raise ownership costs unreasonably or impose so many costs on government as to be incapable of passage given the current economic realities in our state.
Consumer safety and protection is being threatened by the emergence of big box retailers, who are not licensed by the state, engaging in the sale of poorly manufactured off-road motorcycles and ATVs. The manufacturers they represent are also not licensed by the state and have not had to comply with the stringent safety and consumer protection requirements that traditional manufacturers have.
Sunday sale prohibitions (blue laws) have existed in Colorado for many years for cars, liquor and motorcycles. Once again this year, legislation will be introduced that would remove the prohibition, possibly only for motorcycles. Challenging changes to these blue laws and ensuring a fair hearing for the interests of motorcycle dealers and their customers will be an important PDAC function during the upcoming season.
Legislation resembling the California "Buyers' Bill of Rights" is almost certain to be introduced soon. This legislation, designed to provide extra protection for automobile buyers, could dramatically increase costs for motorcycle dealers. In California, motorcycle dealers were excluded from the legislation.