Law and Order

SEMA News—December 2016

LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS

By Steve McDonald

Law and Order

2016: The Year in Review

  Law and Order Year in Review
California License Plates: Legislation was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown to expand the authorization of year-of-manufacture license plates to include owners of ’80 or older model-year vehicles. Previous law authorized only owners of vehicles that are of a ’69 or older model year or owners of a commercial vehicle or pickup truck that is ’72 or older to utilize California year-of-manufacture license plates. These plates must be legible and serviceable. Under the new law, the state may consult with an organization of old-car hobbyists in determining whether the date of the year of the license plate corresponds to the model-year date when the vehicle was manufactured.
   

The laws and regulations that govern how SEMA members do business have a continuous impact on the way automotive specialty-equipment products are made, distributed and marketed. The charge of the SEMA government affairs office is to stay on top of relevant state and federal legislation and regulations and advocate for industry positions to ensure the best possible outcome for SEMA membership. The following are just a few examples of critical legislative/regulatory successes the SEMA government affairs team was involved in this year.

STATE UPDATE

Alabama Titles: Legislation to exempt motor vehicles more than 35 years old from the requirement that they have a certificate of title was signed into law by Governor Robert J. Bentley. Previously, only vehicles of model-year ’74 and older were exempted. Trailers 20 model years old and older are also exempted under the new law. Previously, only trailers of the ’89 model year and earlier were exempted. The law takes effect on January 1, 2017.

Arizona Gas Tax/Road-Usage Tax: A bill to raise gas taxes and require a study of a road-usage tax died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The legislation would have required a study of a road-usage tax and potential pilot program. In addition to creating privacy concerns, the measure sought to penalize national efforts to create a more fuel-efficient vehicle fleet by taxing drivers based on vehicle mileage.

California Vehicle Retirement Program: Legislation to require the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to expand the state’s program for the retirement of older passenger vehicles and light- and medium-duty trucks was not approved by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. The bill had passed in the Assembly. Current law provides for “an enhanced fleet modernization program” to be administered by the Bureau of Automotive Repair based on guidelines adopted by ARB. Beginning in the 2016–2017 fiscal year, the bill would have required the agencies to set specific and measurable goals for the program’s expansion.

California Transportation Fees: Legislation that would, among other things, raise the gas tax by $0.12 per gallon, increase the annual vehicle registration fee by $35, add a new $100 annual vehicle registration fee for zero-emissions motor vehicles and impose a new $35 annual road-access charge on each vehicle died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The additional funds raised by the bill would have been used to address deferred maintenance on state highways and local streets and roads. The bill could be revived if the legislature reconvenes before year’s end in a special budget session.

California Tires: A bill that threatened to prohibit tire manufacturers from selling on-road tires if the tires contained zinc in excess of an unspecified percentage and assess a civil penalty on manufacturers who violate the prohibition was amended to remove all reference to tires and zinc. Zinc oxide is used in tire manufacturing as a catalyst in the curing process to increase durability. Banning zinc oxide in tires would have required extensive changes in tire composition that could affect tire safety.

Law and Order Year in Review
New Jersey Emissions Tests: Officials are moving forward with a plan to eliminate the requirement that pre-’96 model-year motor vehicles undergo emissions testing, as the state will eliminate tailpipe emissions tests. The state plans to continue the on-board diagnostic tests used to check emissions on cars made since 1996. Officials believe that the revised requirements will save millions of dollars by reducing both the number of inspections at state facilities and the cost per inspection. The emissions test will continue to include visual checks for things such as liquid leaks and visible smoke, while the gas-cap check that tests whether fumes are escaping from a gas tank will switch to a visual inspection. In New Jersey, vehicles are inspected every other year and exempted for their first five years.
 
   

California Labeling: SEMA-opposed legislation that would have required manufacturers of designated consumer products—including automotive products—to post ingredients on the product label and online on the manufacturer’s website was defeated. As originally drafted, the bill would have made it a crime to manufacture, distribute and sell automotive products that did not have a label listing ingredients and a manufacturer webpage address at which product-ingredient information could also be found. The bill required only the 20 most prevalent ingredients to be listed on the label but required all ingredients to be listed on the company’s website. The measure applied to all chemically formulated products for maintaining the appearance of a vehicle, including products for washing, waxing, polishing, cleaning or treating the exterior or interior surfaces of a vehicle.

Connecticut Titles: In a victory for hobbyists statewide, legislation was signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy to require the state, upon the owner’s request, to issue titles for older vehicles not currently required to be titled under Connecticut law. These vehicles include those more than 20 model years old. The new law expands the out-of-state market for older Connecticut motor vehicles and enhances their value to collectors.

Georgia Headlamps: Legislation to require that the headlamps of every motor vehicle must emit only white light died when the legislature adjourned for the year. All headlamps, both original and aftermarket, are required to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Under that standard, headlamps and replaceable bulbs intended for those headlamps are already required to emit white light, defined by blue, yellow, green, red and purple boundaries within a chromaticity diagram. SEMA worked with the legislature to encourage language in future legislation making specific reference to FMVSS 108 as the standard to which all headlamps must comply.

Hawaii Exhaust Systems: A bill that sought to prohibit the use, sale or installation of an exhaust system “that has been changed or modified from the factory design so as to increase the volume or audibility of the explosions within the vehicle’s motor” died when the legislature adjourned for the year. This SEMA-opposed legislation would have required that safety-inspection stations perform a test to ensure that a vehicle conforms to the law. Fines for noncompliance would have ranged from $100 to $500 for each offense.

Hawaii Noise Emissions: Legislation to allow the state director of transportation to adopt regulations to establish permissible noise emission levels for motor vehicles in accordance with approved U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards died when the legislature adjourned. The bill failed to recognize that the U.S. EPA has no noise-emissions standards for passenger cars and trucks, only motorcycles. Further, the bill provided no objective test by which vehicles would be tested.

Hawaii Fees: Legislation to increase annual registration fees from $45 to $76.50 annually, increase the gas tax from $.16 to $.19 per gallon, and increase the motor vehicle weight tax from $.175 cents to $.275 cents per pound died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The bill had passed the Senate and had been sent to the House for consideration.

  Law and Order Year in Review
South Dakota Single Plate: A measure was signed into law by Governor Dennis Daugaard to allow the issuance of a single license plate for special-interest motor vehicles. The new law requires that the single registration plate be attached to the rear of the vehicle. A special-interest motor vehicle is “a vehicle that is collected, preserved, restored, or maintained by the owner as a leisure pursuit and is not used for general or commercial transportation.” The new law provides that the vehicle owner must sign an affidavit attesting that the vehicle is driven less than 6,000 miles per year and is not used for general or commercial transportation but only for occasional transportation, public displays, parades and related pleasure or hobby activities. The owner will also be required to submit the odometer reading annually upon registration renewal.
   

Indiana Off-Highway Trails: A bill to allow the operator of a nonregistered off-road vehicle or snowmobile from another state or country to purchase a trail-use tag to operate on designated trails and properties was approved by the Indiana House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Mike Pence.

Maryland Historic Vehicles: A bill that makes minimal changes to Maryland’s historic-vehicle requirements was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan. As introduced, the bill would have subjected historic vehicles of model-year ’86 and later to undergo periodic safety inspections. An amended version of the new law excludes historic vehicles from the requirement that they receive an inspection certificate prior to titling and registration. The law clarifies that those vehicles are not to be used for regular transportation to employment or school and for commercial purposes and subjects historic vehicles of model-year 1986 and later to equipment repair orders. The repair orders would be issued for vehicle safety equipment that is in disrepair. The new law does not change the age requirement for historic vehicles, does not require that they be insured by a show-vehicle or antique-vehicle insurance policy and does not require that the owner have a “daily driver” vehicle registered in the state, as had previously been proposed.

Michigan Forest Roads: Legislation was signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder to require that forest roads be open to motorized use by the public unless otherwise designated by the Department of Natural Resources. Under the new law, before the department restricts a road or trail used to access public land, it must provide local governments in which the land is located with written notice that includes the reason for the restriction. Other lands permitted for off-highway use include designated roads that are not forest roads, designated trails and other designated areas.

Minnesota Miles Traveled Tax: Legislation to mandate payment of a “recoupment” surcharge of up to $95 died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The surcharge would have been calculated to levy the highest tax on owners of the most fuel-efficient vehicles. Separate legislation to require the Department of Transportation to take steps to implement a vehicle-mileage user fee to tax drivers on actual miles driven also died.

Missouri Miles-Traveled Tax: Legislation to require the state to charge and collect a miles-driven fee of up to $200 for a one-year vehicle registration and up to $400 for a two-year vehicle registration was withdrawn by the bill’s sponsor. Under the measure, this fee would have been charged in addition to all other registration fees and would not have replaced the gas tax.

Nebraska Single Plate: A bill was signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts to provide for the issuance of a single license plate for passenger cars that were not originally equipped with a bracket on the front of the vehicle to display a plate. The new law also allows special-interest vehicles that use the special-interest vehicle license plate to run a single plate. The law will take effect on January 1, 2017.

Law and Order Year in Review
West Virginia Racing: A bill was signed into law by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin authorizing local governments to hold sanctioned motor vehicle races on public roads or airports under their jurisdiction. The law also requires issuance of a permit for the racing event and declares that an authorized racing event is not a nuisance or subject to speed restrictions.
 
   

New Hampshire Antique Trailers: Legislation was signed into law by Governor Maggie Hassan to eliminate the requirement that antique trailers have only one axle to qualify for antique-trailer plates. The new law lowers the annual registration fee for the approximately 15,000 multi-axle trailers to $6.

New Hampshire Road-User Fee: Legislation to establish a road-usage fee for motor vehicles registered to travel on state roads died when the legislature failed to act. Under the bill, the fee would have been based on the equivalent miles per gallon of the vehicle and collected at the time of annual registration of the vehicle. The measure would have imposed its harshest penalties on those vehicles that have the highest miles-per-gallon rating, with a maximum tax of $149.85.

New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicles: A bill was signed into law by Governor Maggie Hassan to re-establish the authority of the Bureau of Trails to permit larger off-highway recreational vehicles at Jericho Mountain State Park. Under New Hampshire law, “Off-highway recreational vehicle means any mechanically propelled vehicle used for pleasure or recreational purposes running on rubber tires, tracks, or cushion of air and dependent on the ground or surface for travel, or other unimproved terrain whether covered by ice or snow or not, where the operator sits in or on the vehicle.”

New Hampshire Emissions: A bill was signed into law by Governor Maggie Hassan to exempt rare or historically significant vehicles from emissions-control requirements. Under previous law, only vehicles 20 or more years old were exempt. The new law becomes effective on January 1, 2017.

North Carolina Emissions: Legislation that would remove five counties from the list of jurisdictions where motor vehicle emissions inspections are required was approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory.

Tennessee Headlights: Legislation to require headlights on motor vehicles to emit only a white light or light of a yellow or amber tint died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The bill exempts white HID lamps and other lamps installed as original equipment on new vehicles. SEMA worked with the bill sponsor to amend the bill to conform to the federal lighting standard to which all headlamps, both original and aftermarket, are required to comply.

Tennessee Emissions: A bill was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam to extend the emissions-inspection exemption for new cars. Under the new law, all vehicles three years old and newer would be excused regardless of mileage. Previous law exempted only new motor vehicles being registered for the first time or one year from initial registration.

Vermont Exhaust Systems: A bill to ban motor vehicle exhaust systems that increase noise levels died when the legislature adjourned for the year. Under the measure, violators would not have passed the state’s required inspection, subjecting them to fines of up to $350. The bill also did not provide an opportunity for vehicle hobbyists to install and use aftermarket exhaust systems that meet an objective decibel limit under a fair and predictable test.

West Virginia Race Cars: A House Concurrent Resolution was approved by the West Virginia Legislature to urge the U.S. EPA to allow the conversion of vehicles originally designed for on-road use into race cars. The resolution recognizes that while the Clean Air Act prohibits certain modifications to motor vehicles, it is clear that vehicles built or modified for racing and not used on the streets are not the motor vehicles that the U.S. Congress intended to regulate.

West Virginia Exhaust Noise: Legislation was not approved to make it a criminal offense to disturb the peace with “noise from an exhaust system of any vehicle that is not equipped or constructed so as to prevent any disturbing or unreasonably loud noise.”

West Virginia Collector Car Appreciation Day: The West Virginia Legislature passed a House Concurrent Resolution designating the second Friday in July as Collector Car Appreciation Day in the state.

Wisconsin Collector Vehicle Appreciation Day: An Assembly Joint Resolution was approved by the full Wisconsin Assembly to annually designate the second Friday in July as Collector Vehicle Appreciation Day in the state.

FEDERAL UPDATE

  Law and Order Year in Review
Canada Collector Vehicle Appreciation Day: The province of Saskatchewan issued a proclamation designating July 2016, as Automotive Heritage Month in the province. Saskatchewan joined Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, which issued similar proclamations earlier this year. British Columbia issued a proclamation designating July 9, 2016, as Collector Car Appreciation Day and the month of July 2016 to be Collector Car Appreciation Month. The province of Manitoba and the city of Calgary issued proclamations designating July 8, 2016, as Collector Car Appreciation Day.
   

National Collector Vehicle Appreciation Day: The seventh annual Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD) took place on Friday, July 8, 2016. The United States Senate approved a resolution to focus attention on the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. Thousands of Americans gathered at car cruises, parades and other events to celebrate our nation’s automotive heritage.

Replica Vehicle Law: A SEMA-supported law enacted in 2015 will allow small auto manufacturers to sell completed replica cars. Those are vehicles that resemble cars manufactured at least 25 years ago. The companies will be able to produce up to 325 turnkey replica vehicles (per company) in the United States and 5,000 worldwide under a simplified regulatory system. Until now, the federal government’s regulatory system did not differentiate between a company producing millions of vehicles and a business producing a few custom cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and EPA are working on regulations to implement the law, scheduled to take effect in 2017.

Consumer Warranties: The Federal Trade Commission updated its regulations to allow manufacturers to publish consumer product warranty information on websites. Congress passed a SEMA-supported law in 2015 amending the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act to provide businesses with the option of posting warranty information on a website rather than including it in the instructions that accompany their products. Companies providing online warranty information still need to alert consumers either on the product, its packaging or in an accompanying manual about how to access the website. They also need to provide a phone number or mailing address as another option besides a website for obtaining information.

E15/Ethanol: A SEMA-supported bill has been introduced in the U.S. Congress that would cap the yearly amount of ethanol to be blended into transportation fuel at 9.7%. The legislation would replace ever-increasing ethanol mandates required under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The EPA is relying on expanded sales of E15 (gas that contains 15% ethanol) to meet the RFS targets. Ethanol—especially in higher concentrations such as E15—can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers in automobiles produced before 2001 that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials. SEMA has joined with more than 50 other organizations to support the bill’s passage. Congress is not expected to pass legislation until the “blend wall” has been reached—the point at which no more ethanol can be blended without forcing higher blends such as E15 and above into the marketplace.

CAFE Targets: NHTSA, the EPA and CARB issued a joint technical report that will be used to determine the feasibility of meeting a fleet-wide fuel average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The report concludes that the average may actually be in the 50- to 52.6-mpg range. NHTSA’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards are linked to the EPA’s greenhouse gas standards, since the amount of fossil fuel burned directly corresponds to carbon emissions. CAFE standards are based on the size and class of vehicles, allowing SUVs to have standards that are different from those for passenger cars. NHTSA will be conducting a review of the CAFE program next year with the possibility for adjusting the CAFE targets for the 2021–2015 time period. NHTSA’s current fleet target of 54.5 mpg assumed that gas prices would be higher and, in turn, that more consumers would be buying smaller, fuel-efficient cars.

Law and Order Year in Review
EPA and Racing Parts: SEMA continues to advance the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, which clarifies that the Clean Air Act allows for the modification of motor vehicles for race use only and that making, selling and installing race products for this purpose is not unlawful tampering. The RPM Act has garnered strong support in Congress, including 118 sponsors in the House and 28 in the Senate. SEMA has engaged its member companies as well as other impacted trade associations and racing enthusiasts to support the legislation.
 
   

Automatic Braking: Under an agreement reached with NHTSA, virtually all of the major automakers will voluntarily install automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems on all new cars by 2022 and heavier SUVs and pickup trucks by 2024. AEB systems use lasers, radar and/or cameras to sense potential collision hazards. The systems can make a sound warning to the driver and then proactively activate the brakes if necessary. Studies indicate that AEB systems have the potential to prevent accidents or reduce the severity by as much as 50%. The systems are already available on a number of vehicles.

Defective/Noncompliant Products: NHTSA provided guidance on the requirement that manufacturers provide NHTSA with any communications to dealers, owners or purchasers about a product defect or noncompliance. NHTSA is required to post these communications—including technical service bulletins—on the agency’s website. The communications must include an index with a concise summary of the subject matter. For equipment manufacturers, the index should include descriptive information about the equipment when it is not associated with a specific vehicle make, model and model year.

New Technologies Safety Guidance: Recognizing that automotive technology is rapidly changing, NHTSA issued an Enforcement Guidance Bulletin for addressing autonomous vehicles and other nontraditional new products and software. The guidance includes discussion on treating vulnerabilities when such technology or equipment poses an unreasonable risk to safety or constitutes a safety-related defect.

Employer Workplace Injuries Data: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires most companies with 10 or more employees to keep a record of worker injuries and illnesses. The employer has typically kept the information for private reference, but OSHA will now require most larger companies to submit the data electronically to OSHA for posting on the agency’s website. The new rule applies to establishments with 250 or more employees in industries that are already required to keep work-related injury and illness records. It also applies to auto-parts manufacturers, distributors and retailers with 20 to 249 workers. OSHA estimates that the rule will impact 476,000 businesses. The rule became effective in August 2016 and is being phased in over two years.

Overtime Pay for Salaried Workers: The U.S. Department of Labor raised the minimum salary threshold required to qualify for the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “white-collar” exemption to $47,476 per year, effective December 1, 2016. Under the current rule, management, administrative and professional employees who currently earn a salary of more than $23,660 per year are exempt from receiving overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. The rule will impact an estimated 4.2 million salaried workers.

Toxic Chemical Law: The president signed into law a bill that modernizes the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The new law provides the EPA with broad new duties and powers to regulate hazardous chemicals. Lawmakers and industry have been seeking to overhaul the 1976 law, which governs thousands of chemicals found in a diverse range of products, from paint thinners to clothing. The updated law seeks to provide the industry with a single federal regulatory system for testing and regulating potentially dangerous chemicals rather than the current patchwork of state rules. Previously, the EPA had to prove that a chemical posed a potential risk before it could demand health and safety data or require testing. Since the substance can automatically enter the marketplace after 90 days, a number of states have enacted their own restrictions. Under the new approach, the EPA has the authority to direct companies to test products in exchange for a uniform rule that supersedes state rules.

Copyright Law: The U.S. Copyright Office is undertaking a study on the interplay between copyright law and consumer products that contain software, including motor vehicles. Software is often protected by copyright law, but exceptions in the law allow for use and access to copyright-protected elements for certain purposes. Congress is now considering changes to the law to more adequately address the issue. In its comments to the Copyright Office, SEMA argued that any changes to the law should ensure that aftermarket companies continue to have access and the ability to reverse engineer the software of modern vehicles to achieve different functionality and interoperability with aftermarket components.

Trade Secrets Law: In an effort to protect U.S. companies against intellectual-property theft, Congress passed and the president signed into law a SEMA-supported bill that enables companies to protect their trade secrets in federal court. Previously, the absence of a uniform federal standard forced companies to navigate a patchwork of different laws when bringing trade-secret cases in state court. While the U.S. Department of Justice has the power to pursue criminal penalties against companies and individuals who illegally obtain trade secrets, the department’s backlog of cases has not provided companies with sufficient protection. The Defend Trade Secrets Act remedies this problem, providing a uniform standard for companies seeking access to federal courts that may be better positioned to handle interstate or international cases.

Health-Care Fines: The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to eliminate fines imposed on companies with fewer than 50 employees that do not sponsor health-care plans but provide pre-tax dollars to workers through Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). The bill has been introduced in the Senate. HRAs are employer-funded plans that allow a company to reimburse its workers for health-care premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses. In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that the Affordable Care Act made it illegal for the company to fund HRAs not tied to a group plan. The legislation allows those companies to use pretax dollars to continue providing health-care assistance outside a group plan. If not enacted into law, the IRS will impose a $100 per day/per employee penalty for improperly using an HRA.

Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF): The salt flats have significantly decreased in size, strength and thickness over a number of decades as salt brine has been channeled away from the area. SEMA—along with other organizations and companies comprising the Save the Salt Coalition—is working closely with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the salt flats, in addition to federal and state lawmakers on ways to restore the BSF and its 13-mile speedway. The coalition has proposed a comprehensive plan that includes increasing the amount of salt being pumped onto the salt flats during the winter. The coalition is working with lawmakers to introduce federal legislation to help implement a restoration plan.

Utah Public Lands Initiative: The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed a bill that would finalize land-use designations covering more than 18 million acres of land in seven eastern and southern Utah counties. The Utah Public Lands Initiative (PLI) creates motorized recreation zones in San Juan and Grand counties encompassing more than 375,000 acres, along with a 93-mile red rock OHV trail connecting towns in Emery, Grand and San Juan counties. SEMA supports the PLI’s collaborative approach to making final designations in order to provide certainty regarding how land is managed, including wilderness, conservation and recreation areas. Without the legislation, 1.4 million acres of land may soon be designated as the Bears Ears National Monument. The legislation will likely be scheduled for a vote by the House of Representatives after the November election. The bill has not yet been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

National Monuments: As President Obama nears the end of his presidency, he may seek to provide additional national monument designations before leaving office. SEMA opposes unilateral national monument designations, as they prohibit new roads or trails for motorized vehicles and require that a new land-management plan be drafted, which could lead to more road closures. SEMA is working to advance a bill in the U.S. Congress that would curtail the president’s power to unilaterally designate national monuments by requiring their approval by Congress and the impacted state legislature(s).

National OHV Area Designations: SEMA is supporting legislation that would permanently designate six existing OHV areas comprising 300,000 acres in San Bernardino County as national OHV areas: Johnson Valley, Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes and Stoddard Valley. The bill was introduced by Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has introduced a similar bill that also protects OHV areas, although in lesser amounts. No legislative action on the bills has been scheduled to date.

OHV Access to Clear Creek: The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on SEMA-supported legislation to protect off-highway vehicle (OHV) access to public lands. The committee reviewed legislation already approved by the U.S. House of Representatives to reopen the 75,000-acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area in California’s San Benito and Fresno counties for recreational use. Clear Creek was closed by the BLM in 2008 due to concerns about exposure to asbestiform minerals that occur naturally in the area’s rock and soil. However, an independent asbestos risk-assessment study requested by the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission concluded that it was possible to allow OHV use while shielding the public from unacceptable exposure risks. The legislation would reopen more than 240 miles of public trails.

OHV Access to Imperial Sand Dunes: A federal appeals court approved a 2013 plan by the BLM to expand OHV access in Southern California’s Imperial Sand Dunes. The plan had been challenged by environmentalists looking to protect the Peirson’s milkvetch, a threatened plant species, under the Endangered Species Act. The BLM and the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a biological opinion, which concluded that expanded OHV access was not a significant threat to the plant or to the Mojave Desert turtle population. As a result of the appeals-court ruling, the BLM may now implement its plan to expand OHV access at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area by 49,3000 acres for a combined total of more than 127,000 acres at the recreation area.

OHV Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore: The National Park Service (NPS) has proposed changes to its special regulation for OHV use at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina. The revisions are the result of a SEMA-supported federal law enacted in 2014 that required the NPS to revisit a management plan restricting OHV access to large portions of the seashore. The NPS is proposing to revise the times that certain beaches are open to OHV use in the morning and extend the dates that certain seasonal OHV routes are open in the fall and spring. It would also replace an OHV route designation on Ocracoke Island with a park road to allow vehicle access and pedestrian use of a sound-side area without the requirement for an OHV permit.

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