BLM NEWS RELEASE
Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey announced today that the agency will carefully review on a case-by-case basis each approved and pending request to hold Off-Highway Vehicle races on public lands for which it issues permits. The measures come after the injuries and deaths of spectators during an OHV race in Southern California.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragedy in the California Johnson Valley OHV open area,” Abbey said. “We have launched an internal review of the tragedy and we will be taking a very close look at all approved permits and pending requests and determine whether they are appropriate on a case-by-case basis. When we permit any activity on the public lands, our first priority is public and employee safety and health. We will look at these requests carefully and consider the safety record of the individual or organization requesting a permit.”
Abbey also said the BLM will be increasing the BLM’s onsite presence at all such events.
“We will not tolerate any deviation from permit requirements,” Abbey said. “In addition, we are reviewing our Special Recreation Permit program in all Western field offices.”
This year, the BLM has issued more than a hundred special recreation permits for motorized racing, and thousands of participants attend these races. Permits for events such as OHV races on public lands are managed by BLM Field Offices across the West. The BLM, through a land-use planning process, often designates sites and areas appropriate for OHV use.
Individuals or organizations seeking a special recreation permit are required to provide an operating plan that includes safety measures for participants and spectators, certifies safety training for staff, and provides an appropriate insurance policy to cover the event. BLM staff review the proposed plan and issue a permit only if the permittee formally agrees to comply with all Federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, and regulations. The permittee is also required to make every reasonable effort to ensure compliance with these requirements by all agents of the permittee and by all clients, customers, participants, or spectators under the permittee’s supervision.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres – more land than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.