By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff
When Best in The Desert sought a permit application from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for its proposed 643-mile “Vegas to Reno” race course, the environmental community challenged the application since 37 miles take place on existing dirt roads in the recently designated “Basin and Range National Monument.”
After opening the challenge to public comment, the BLM issued a special recreation permit for the race taking place August 19–20. When driving through the Basin and Range National Monument, race participants cannot drive faster than 35 mph or pass other vehicles (about 330 ATVs, trucks, cars, buggies and motorcycles).
National monument designations require a new resource management plan to be issued, which allows roads and trails to be closed. However, the plan has not yet been undertaken for Basin and Range, allowing the challenge despite the fact that the event had previously used the same 37-mile course.
The issue spotlights the consequences of a “national monument” designation. A president has the authority to unilaterally declare land of "historic or scientific interest" to be a national monument. Although this authority has only been used about 140 times in 100 years, tens of millions of acres of land have been set aside in the process with road and trail closures.
SEMA supports legislation in the U.S. Congress to require such designations be approved by congress and the impacted state legislature.
For details, contact Stuart Gosswein at firstname.lastname@example.org.