The El Dorado National Forest is requiring the Polka Dots Motorcycle Club, a 55 year old volunteer organization, to pay approximately $50,000 in advance for an environmental analysis for an off-road event special use permit. This special use permit is required by the Forest Service to host a recreational family motorcycle enduro and an off road motorcycle event in the forest. These fees are primarily to cover the cost of an environmental assessment and secondarily for additional Forest Service monitoring for each event.
These events have been held in our National Forests for over 40 years, using existing, in place, long used and approved Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) trails and forest roads. The Forest Service has been approving the use of these OHV motorcycle trails and forest roads for motorcycle events for decades without any reason to conduct an environmental review. Until recently, the Forest Service has always permitted these events on a yearly basis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Categorical Exclusion. Under this exclusion the Forest Service only charged nominal administration fees. Until more recently the Forest Service had never required volunteer based organized clubs to pay cost recovery fees. The obvious question is what has recently changed? Nothing, except under presser from antiaccess groups the Forest Service has created a policy to create a barrier (financial barrier) to entry for OHV recreation.
In 2008 the El Dorado National Forest completed and environmental analysis of all roads and trails for the entire El Dorado National Forest. Considering the Forest Service has completed an environmental analysis for all roads and trails on the El Dorado National Forest, there is no logic in requiring the completion of an additional environmental analysis for individual or group users. The Forest Service appears to implementing this new policy erect a barrier to entry for OHV recreationist.
These fees are essentially creating a barrier to entry and locking out the public from its own property. These volunteer organized clubs do not make much more than the cost of putting these events on. These cost recovery fees are being put in place to create a barrier to entry for anyone or any group wishing to recreate in the national forest.