House committee gives unanimous consent
The Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act, which would establish a national recreation area in California and reopen about 240 miles of off-highway-vehicle riding trails, was reported out of the House Committee on Natural Resources Committee on March 16 and now goes before the House for consideration.
Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), H.R. 1838 would allow off-road vehicles to return to the 75,000-acre Clear Creek Management Area southeast of Hollister, Calif., and establish the 21,000-acre Joaquin Rocks Wilderness area, a compromise proposal that has bipartisan support among California's congressional delegation.
Clear Creek was closed to motorized vehicles by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2008 after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns about naturally occurring asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen. The EPA claims that the dust kicked up by dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles presents a health hazard for riders and others.
But subsequent studies by the International Environmental Research Foundation found that the lifetime risk from asbestos for those riding at Clear Creek five days a year was about the same as for someone who smokes less than one cigarette a day for that same year.
Under the Resource Management Plan adopted by the BLM in 2014, the Serpentine Area of Critical Environmental Concern was opened to some motorized traffic, but on a very limited basis.
The AMA and other OHV advocacy groups, such as the BlueRibbon Coalition, have supported efforts to reopen Clear Creek since the trails were closed.