U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE
Office of Public Affairs
|Release Date: 11/19/10|
BLM Releases Internal Report on Johnson Valley OHV Race Permit
An internal review by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released today found its policies and procedures for permitting off-highway vehicle (OHV) events are sound, but the agency did not adhere to these procedures in permitting Mojave Desert Racing (MDR) Production’s California 200, the race that resulted in eight spectator fatalities in a tragic accident in San Bernardino County on August 14, 2010.
In response to the report, BLM National Director Bob Abbey issued instructions to all BLM field offices nationwide that “reinforce the importance of following our procedures aimed at ensuring safety at all these events throughout the West. My clear directive is: if our field offices cannot fulfill or complete all the required steps in authorizing this event, then no permit will be issued.” The Director's policy can be viewed at http://www.blm.gov/
“This tragic accident was a call for us to take an unvarnished look at what went wrong and what BLM can do to improve safety and oversight of these types of races,” Acting BLM State Director Jim Abbott said. “We are cooperating fully with the California Highway Patrol's ongoing investigation into the accident, but our own internal review found we did not follow agency procedures in permitting and overseeing the event. We have swiftly taken corrective action by implementing the recommendations of the review team, raising the bar for oversight and safety at all such events, and moving forward with a sense of shared responsibility and accountability.”
Abbott said the internal BLM inquiry he chartered immediately after the accident was prepared by a team of experts from throughout the West and Washington, D.C. Abbott asked that group to review both the MDR permit issuance and review BLM's handling of all SRPs throughout the California Desert, where OHV recreation has long been a highly popular activity.
The inquiry team found BLM’s procedures were not carried out in the MDR permit. The report also found that this shortcoming was not limited to this event or BLM field office, but that adherence to these procedures was inconsistent throughout the five BLM field offices in the 11-million-acre California Desert.
The report concludes with specific action items to ensure effective special recreation permit administration and safety compliance at events; some are immediate and others long term. These include providing adequate BLM ranger and recreation staffing at all events, requiring companies to compensate the BLM for processing and administering permits that take up more than 50 hours of staff time, and requiring more oversight from the District and State Office of BLM to check for policy compliance and program consistency.
Abbott said BLM-California has already taken steps to ensure all approval procedures are carefully followed in issuing permits to assure “seamless implementation” here in California. Since the accident, four special recreation permit applications have been denied and five applications submitted by the promoter of the California 200 are being held in abeyance, pending completion of the CHP's investigation. More than a dozen authorized SRP events have occurred since August 14, all with appropriate BLM law enforcement and management staff oversight.
Appropriate BLM personnel actions are being taken in accordance with Federal laws and policies, but specifics cannot be disclosed due to the Privacy Act.
The full report is available online at www.blm.gov/ca. Director Abbey's Instruction Memorandum is also available at the same address.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, recreational and other activities on BLM-managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends. In FY 2012, nearly $5.7 billion will be generated on lands managed by the BLM, which operates on a $1.1 billion budget. 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 lands.
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|Last updated: 12-01-2010|
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