Comments needed for Best In The Desert 2009 Race

BAKERSFIELD, CA (February 28, 2009) In January, Casey Folks, Director of the Best in The Desert Racing Association, announced that the official name of this year's race is TSCO “Vegas to Reno” – The Long Way… and it’s approximately 1000 miles. In 2008 the Best in The Desert (BITD) racing series saw increased entries and Casey wanted to turn up the heat on this year’s event by lengthening the course. The event will run for a full three days with stops each night at “Camp Adventure” where racers and their teams will be able to make repairs and adjustments to their vehicles in a controlled environment and have great bench racing opportunities.

This is your opportunity to make a difference. The BLM is soliciting scoping comments on the Environmental Analysis (EA) being prepared in order to issue a Special Recreation Permit for this event. We want to let the BLM know that our community supports this race.  Comments must be received by March 6, 2009.

The state of Nevada is a tourism-based economy which has historically included events such as this to attract people to the state and its rural communities. This fact, along with the increased popularity of this type of recreation, magnifies the need for this type of event. The amount of public lands with established roads and trails makes this state uniquely equipped to host events of this type. By allowing this race to occur it will be fulfilling the recreation needs of the area and at the same time bring badly need tourism dollars to the region.
Sample letter:

Eric Williams
BLM – Tonopah Field Office
P.O. Box 911
1553 S. Main Street
Tonopah, NV 89049

RE: Letter in Support of Best in the Desert Racing Association Vegas to Reno Off-Highway Vehicle Race

Dear Mr. Williams:

I am writing to you today in support of the 2009 “Vegas to Reno” race being held by the Best in the Desert Racing Association (BITD). The State of Nevada has a tourist-based economy and relies on events like this for revenue. Given the current state of our economy, cities and rural communities in Nevada would be further strained if this event were not allowed to take place as it has for the past 14 years.

Through careful planning, and through compliance with analytical requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), BLM and BITD should be able to identify and mitigate any potential race-related impacts on the environment. The public and stakeholders should also be able to assist in this process, as many of them know where sensitive resources are located and how best to align the racecourse to avoid disturbing those resources.

BITD has a history of hosting world class off-road events. Further, BITD has shown a commitment to preserving and remediating the roads and trails used during those events. There is no reason to expect that BITD will treat the Vegas to Reno race any differently. As you are well aware, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act imposes a multiple use mandate on the BLM. OHV recreation and racing qualify as valid uses of public lands under that mandate. For this reason and the reasons given above, I hope that you will issue a Special Recreation Permit for the Vegas to Reno race.




Additional Comment Suggestions:

• Purpose and Need - The EA must discuss the purpose and need for this event. This should include the fact that the popularity of this sport has greatly increased in recent years. Additionally it should consider that Nevada, with its vast amounts of public lands, is uniquely suited to hosting an event of this size. It is doubtful that an event of this type could be held elsewhere in the contiguous United States. Another need that should be analyzed is the economic one. We are in midst of a recession and the additional income this event brings to the state is more important now than ever.

• Land Use Plan Conformance – In the past the route chosen by this promoter has always been consistent with the existing land use plan and their subsequent amendments. The routes included in this EA should also be consistent with the existing land use plans.

• Reclamation Plan – The EA must ensure that all areas used or disturbed by the race are returned to pre-race conditions.

• Fire Impacts – The EA must look at all available avenues to reduce the risks of wildfires.

• Cultural Resources – The EA must reduce any impacts to cultural resources in the area. In the past that has been done by keeping the race route on well established road and trails.

• Sensitive, Threatened, or Endangered Animal Species - The EA must evaluate the race's potential to affect sensitive, threatened, or endangered animal species and their habitats. Such animals include the Amorgosa toad and the Mojave desert tortoise. To the extent the race may disturb such species or their habitats, those impacts must be minimized to the greatest extent feasible. Any vehicular use in habitat for sensitive, threatened, or endangered animals should be limited to existing trails or roads.

• Sensitive, Threatened, or Endangered Plant Species – The EA must evaluate the race's potential to affect sensitive, threatened, or endangered plant species and the soils in which they are rooted. Such plants include the Tecopa birdbeak, the squalid milk-vetch, and the Churchill narrows buckwheat. To the extent the race may disturb such species or the soils on which they depend, those impacts must be minimized to the greatest extent feasible. Any vehicular use in areas which support sensitive, threatened, or endangered plants should be limited to existing trails or roads.

• Human Health and Safety -The EA must identify where potential hazards occur on the race route and ensure that those hazards are adequately marked.

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