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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Owyhee Field Office has kicked off a
travel planning effort to prepare a Comprehensive Travel Management Plan
for approximately 227,000 acres in what is known as the Murphy Sub-Region.


The BLM is interested in scheduling meetings with individuals and user
groups over the next few weeks to discuss the route designation process.
These meetings will include reviewing the current route inventory,
gathering ideas and opinions and collecting any additional information
needed via maps and field trips. To schedule a meeting, contact Ryan Homan
at 208-896-5925 or via email at [email protected].


The BLM will be accepting comments through June 15, 2007. Submit written
comments to, BLM Owyhee Field Office, 20 First Ave West, Marsing, Idaho
83639, Attn: Ryan Homan or via email to [email protected].


IMPORTANT NOTE:
The BLM is in a 45-day "scoping" period where they take information from
the general public and user groups regarding "Planning Issues" that will be
used when formulating alternatives. BRC has noted a disturbing trend in
previous route designation plans in Idaho that requires immediate comment
from the OHV community. In addition, BLM is attempting a "comprehensive"
travel management process whereby they will identify routes for all modes
of travel, including motorized, mechanized, equestrian and even hiking
routes. This requires the immediate attention by all of Idaho's
recreational groups as well as written comment on each of the "KEY ISSUES"
below.


Please take a minute to review the information below and send a quick email
to the BLM regarding the KEY ISSUES. This does not limit your ability to
submit additional comments as the process moves along.


As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.


Thanks in advance for your involvement,
Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102


SITUATION:
The Idaho BLM's Owyhee Field Office is attempting to formulate a
"comprehensive" travel management plan for the Murphy Sub-Region. BRC has
identified several key issues that require comment.


WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
1) The BLM is interested in scheduling meetings with individuals and user
groups over the next few weeks to discuss this important process. These
meetings will include reviewing the current route inventory, gathering
ideas and opinions and collecting any additional information needed via
maps and field trips. Schedule a meeting for your local club by contacting
Ryan Homan at 208-896-5925 or via email at [email protected].


2) Several key issues have been identified that require immediate comment.
Please use the information below to help you send an email comment today
addressing these important items. Your comment letter does not limit you
from submitting comments or information later in the process.


The BLM will be accepting comments through June 15, 2007. Submit written
comments to: BLM Owyhee Field Office, 20 First Ave West, Marsing, Idaho
83639, Attn: Ryan Homan or via email to [email protected].



KEY ISSUES AND COMMENT SUGGESTIONS:


KEY ISSUE #1:
THE NEED FOR A "PRO-RECREATION" ALTERNATIVE


Virtually all of the ongoing travel management planning projects in Idaho
have one common critical flaw: a lack of a true "pro-recreation"
alternative.


All of the alternatives developed for consideration represent a significant
reduction in routes available for motorized use. Not one alternative even
sustains the current opportunity. Conversely, virtually every project has
developed a "conservation" alternative, where a maximum amount of closures
are considered.


This sad situation must come to an end immediately!


BRC is encouraging Idaho's OHV community to draw a line in the sand,
beginning today, with this Murphy Sub-Region planning process.


The increasing demand for OHV recreation opportunities on public lands and
National Forests is extensively documented. Therefore, we believe it is
incumbent upon the Owyhee Field Office's planning team to formulate at
least one alternative that maximizes recreation, or at least does not
reduce recreational opportunities in the planning area.


According to the "Outdoor Recreation for 21st Century America: A Report to
the Nation, The National Survey on Recreation and the Environment" (H.
Cordell, 2004), the number of people driving motor vehicles off road in the
United States increased over 109 percent from 1982 to 2000. In Idaho, the
report estimates over 33 percent of Idaho's population enjoys OHV
recreation.


In 2004, a survey conducted by Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation
found that 52.4% of Idahoans participated in OHV recreation. Statewide
registrations of trail motorcycles and ATVs have increased 75% in the last
five years, from 59,395 in 2001 to 104,127 in 2005. These statistics
demonstrate that OHV recreation is very important to Idahoans, and OHV use
is growing fast.


The BLM itself has documented the increasing demand for OHV recreation
opportunities. The BLM's "National OHV Strategy" states:
"Motorized off-highway vehicle use on public lands administered by the
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has increased substantially in recent
years. ... Some of [the factors contributing to growing OHV popularity]
are:
greater public interest in unconfined outdoor recreational
opportunities
rising disposable income ..
advances in vehicle technology
the rapid growth of the West's cities and suburbs ...
a population with an increasing median age with changing outdoor
recreational interests


This [growing OHV] popularity is evidenced by the fact that recreational
enthusiasts are buying OHVs at the rate of 1,500 units per day nationwide,
with nearly one-third of them doing so as first-time buyers." BLM's OHV
Strategy recognizes, as does policy outlined in BLM Manual 8340 (May 25,
1982), "that off-road vehicle use is an acceptable use of public land
wherever it is compatible with established resource management objectives.
Motorized OHV use is now firmly established as a major recreational
activity on BLM-administered public lands."


Comment Suggestions:


* The planning team cannot legitimately address increasing demand for OHV
recreation opportunity by refusing to accommodate such demand. Alternatives
must include at least one that prudently provides for increased OHV use
that meets the current and anticipated demand.


* The Planning Team must formulate a wide range of alternatives including
at least one Alternative that maximizes recreational opportunities in the
Planning Area.


* The Planning Team must formulate at least one Alternative that emphasizes
OHV use in Roaded Natural and Semi-Primitive Motorized opportunity settings
for recreation. This alternative should strive to provide for the current
and future demand for OHV recreational routes.


* Alternatives should include areas where OHV trails can be constructed and
maintained when demand increases.


* If appropriate, the BLM should use this process to analyze the impacts of
any future route construction. Direction for the required process to
construct new routes should be incorporated into each alternative. At least
one alternative should maximize the ability to construct new sustainable
trails to meet the current and future need.


* The planning team should develop management alternatives that allow for
proactive OHV management. All alternatives should include specific
provisions to mark, map and maintain designated roads, trails and areas in
cooperation with OHV users. All alternatives should include direction to
engage in cooperative management with OHV groups and individuals.


KEY ISSUE #2:
THE "COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL PLAN" DILEMMA


A motorized travel plan is a plan that specifically designates roads,
trails and areas for motorized use, designates which vehicles will be
allowed on which routes and if seasonal restrictions apply. A comprehensive
trail designation plan does the same thing except it includes all trail
uses, including mountain bike, equestrian and hiking.


It is a very important distinction.


Why is this distinction so important? Well, the anti-access groups usually
attempt to convince the planning team to develop a "comprehensive" travel
plan by using only the existing inventory of motorized routes. They do this
by identifying existing motorized trails that are good for mountain bikes,
equestrians and for bird watching... or whatever.


This is a very bad scenario because it takes the current motorized route
inventory and tries to make it THE route inventory for all users. It leaves
out possibilities for constructing or otherwise developing non-motorized
trails and sometimes totally ignores existing non-motorized trails that
exist in both the planning area and adjacent lands.


Now, that doesn't mean the agency can't take into consideration the effect
each alternative will have on non-motorized visitors. It can - and it
should. That is part of the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act)
analysis. But that is totally different from specifically providing a
non-motorized trail system via the existing inventory of motorized routes.


It should be noted that BRC supports the creation, designation and
management of non-motorized trails. In fact, in many instances there is a
need for the construction and development of mountain bike and equestrian
trails. We often help non-motorized users submit comments asking
specifically for new trails for their use. In fact, lots of times such
suggestions make sense. BRC believes the agency should consider
construction of mountain bike and equestrian trails whenever possible. But
the agency must not develop a "comprehensive" recreational trail plan using
only the existing motorized trail system.


Comment Suggestions:


* I support the creation, designation and management of non-motorized
trails, but not at the expense of motorized visitors. I ask that the BLM
not use the existing motorized trail inventory for designating
non-motorized trails. Instead, if there is a need for non-motorized trails,
the BLM should consider options that do not reduce the existing opportunity
for motorized users.



KEY ISSUE #3:
ISSUE: CUMULATIVE LOSS OF OHV RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITY


If you are like many OHV enthusiasts, you have experienced recent closures
in your favorite riding area. This is an important issue to bring up and
could have an impact on the decision. Below are some comment suggestions to
help if this issue applies to your area.


Indeed, a quick review of the Sawtooth and Payette National Forest
indicates thousands of miles of road and trail closures are just around the
corner.


The issue of "cumulative loss of OHV recreational opportunity" is a valid
issue we must bring to the BLM for consideration in this process.


Comment Suggestions:


* The cumulative loss of recreational opportunity by OHV users in Idaho is
a significant issue that should be incorporated into the analysis and into
the decision making process.


* Motorized recreational opportunity has been, and continues to be, reduced
throughout the region. Through the past several decades, there have been
literally thousands of miles of roads and trails closed to motorized use in
Idaho. More closures are planned for the immediate future.
For example:
The Payette and Sawtooth National Forests are proposing significant
reductions in current miles of roads, trails and areas for motorized
vehicles.
Many BLM Offices in Idaho will be formulating travel plans that will
close roads, trails and areas for motorized use in the near future.
Federal land managers in states adjacent to Idaho are contemplating
significant closures via ongoing travel management plans.


This proposal must not continue the trend of eliminating opportunity for
vehicle-based recreation.


* The cumulative loss of recreational opportunity for OHV users in the
region has been significant and should be brought into the analysis and
incorporated into the decision making process.


* The analysis should also include a brief but accurate description of the
ongoing travel management planning projects on adjacent lands as well as
other public lands in the region and estimate the cumulative impact of the
Murphy Sub-Region travel plan to motorized users in context with all of the
other closures.


* The planning team is encouraged to consider the cumulative loss of
recreation as a planning issue.
 

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Thanks Sabrina!
 

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Sabrina, Thanks for the info. I'm concerned about land issues but am a bit ignorant on the details, especially some of the terminology. Like - "Roaded Natural and Semi-Primitive Motorized opportunity"
Is there a hand book for the complete dummy? I'd be more able to participate if I understood the lingo better and didn't have to wade through pages of confusing information. As a 25 year veteran of the computer industry I get enough over written documents at work. I want to help but find it taxing to come home and try to decipher BLM and Government speak. Again I'm glad we have people looking out for us and I want to help I just am not sure how?
mr. bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sabrina, Thanks for the info. I'm concerned about land issues but am a bit ignorant on the details, especially some of the terminology. Like - "Roaded Natural and Semi-Primitive Motorized opportunity"
Is there a hand book for the complete dummy? I'd be more able to participate if I understood the lingo better and didn't have to wade through pages of confusing information. As a 25 year veteran of the computer industry I get enough over written documents at work. I want to help but find it taxing to come home and try to decipher BLM and Government speak. Again I'm glad we have people looking out for us and I want to help I just am not sure how?
mr. bill
Mr. Bill,
Honestly I wish there was a book for the complete dummy when it came to some of this stuff. Unfortunately there isn't one. I agree the lingo is pretty hard to understand. My best advice would be to submit an email or call the BLM at the numbers listed above & let them know your thoughts on this. Try to use some of the Key points listed above in your comments to help them be more effective, also try to keep them as positive as possible. We all do not want to see our trails closed, but getting negative & such with the BLM is not a good way to go about that. I hope this information is of some help to you. I'm sure its not the exact answer you were looking for. ALso being involved in one of your local clubs can help as well. If you have any more questions please ask. :thumb:
 

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Thanks - I did send a message off to Ryan above and I agree positive approach is always better. I truly want to help but just am never sure how to spend my limited energy. Thanks again for keeping us informed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Times ticking away.....

I wanted to remind you about the comment period for the Murphy Subregion. The deadline is JUNE 30th. Please get your comments in ASAP. It only takes a few minutes of your time to send them in.


http://www.planet4x4.net/forums/land-issues/7226-murphy-subregion-you-only-have-8-days.html


I wanted to remind all of you, since a lot of us ran the trails & enjoyed the State 4x4 Association Trail Ride & Rally last weekend. The deadline is coming up fast & we MUST get our comments in to have our voices heard, otherwise we have no legs to stand on. So....have you done your part? Have you sent in your comments? I suggest you do so immediately! Otherwise our sport could be in more serious jeopardy. It doesn't take long to tell our land managers what we want, how we feel, & what we think. Do SOMETHING other than WHINE & COMPLAIN about the way things are being done. TAKE ACTION NOW!


Riding around out in the Owhyees last weekend was sure a blast, but seeing the recent changes, new signs, fences, was a HUGE wake up call to me. We've got to do something & do it NOW or be prepared to be shut out of our trails. Please take the few minutes to send your comments in.
 

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letter sent, via email
 
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