The Bureau of Land Management is proposing to close 37 percent of the public travel routes in the 210,000 Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area.
The agency is appealing to the public for specific comments on proposed travel route closures in its Dominguez-Escalante Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP).
None of the 139 miles of county roads in the NCA is proposed for permanent closure, though some have always been closed seasonally due to road and weather conditions.
During recent sessions of the 10-member citizen Dominguez-Escalante Advisory Group, Collin Ewing, manager of the new National Conservation Area (NCA), said that the BLM needs route-specific comment and information on the proposed closures from the public who uses and knows the routes. The deadline for submitting comments is Sept. 23.
The BLM is proposing to close the 37 percent of the public travel routes in the NCA, approximately 250 miles, under its preferred alternative (Alternative E). Another of the five alternatives proposed would shut 351 miles or 56 percent of the routes.
The BLM's parsing of travel route classifications includes 11 different reasons for proposed closure, another half dozen types of travel use from hiking to four-wheeling, and varying types of closures, for instance, administrative and seasonal.
The resulting matrix of alternatives creates a mind boggling matrix of interlocking numbers, percentages, conditions and definitions.
According to information from the RMP document
provided by BLM, there are currently 747 miles of "routes available for some form of public use." Under Alternative A (the "no action" alternative) there would be no closures. Other alternatives in the Draft RMP would close between 220 and 350 public routes.
A sampling of the reasons given by BLM for proposed Alternative E closures include redundant routes (84 miles or 13 percent); routes "lacking use value" (51 miles or 8 percent); and, dead ends (31 miles or 5 percent.
Ewing explained that the agency had two people take motorcycles and travel every route in the NCA with GPS devices to develop its inventory of the public travel routes. Still, if people have specific information on reasons for the routes, or information on the use of individual routes slated for closure in the Draft NCA, the BLM field offices in Grand Junction and Montrose want to know about them before the Sept. 23 deadline.
"If we don't hear any objections to something in the plan," BLM staff told a user group meeting in June, "then we will assume that it is right."
Once that assumption is made it could become part of the official management plan for the NCA and wilderness area for the next 15 to 20 years, the BLM says.
Copies of the Draft RMP on CD are available from the two BLM field offices. Printed copies have been placed in libraries at Delta, Grand Junction, and Montrose.
An online copy can be found by entering the words Dominguez-Escalante RMP into a computer search engine and then navigating to the appropriate page.blog comments powered by Disqus