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BLM to Conduct New Review of Permits Issued for OHV Races Held on Public Lands


Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey announced 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
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