The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 directs BLM’s Boise District Office (BDO) to complete a Comprehensive Travel and Transportation Management Plan for public lands in Owyhee County. To accomplish this task, the BDO has separated the county into five subregions or Travel Management Areas (TMA): Canyonlands East, Canyonlands West, National Conservation Area (NCA), Grand View, and Silver City. All TMAs were part of the inventory efforts started in 2004 and completed in 2012 through public involvement and BLM validation. In 2013, the BLM started evaluating each route segment in detail, including how and when the route is used, what the route provides access to, and how the route interacts with important natural or cultural resources. This route evaluation has been completed and enabled the BLM to develop three alternatives to consider for the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area South and Canyonlands East TMAs. This Environmental Analysis (EA) reflects the development of alternatives during route evaluation and is the last step prior to a decision by BLM spring 2017.
What is a Comprehensive Travel and Transportation Management Plan?
A comprehensive travel and transportation management plan is a wide-ranging analysis considering the access needs of all public land users. Access needs are evaluated in conjunction with the BLM’s legal mandate to protect natural and cultural resources on public lands. Individual route evaluations and designations that are included in the Comprehensive Travel and Transportation Management Plan will be analyzed in the EA. Based on this analysis; every route on BLM-managed lands will receive one of the following designations:
1. Open: Route is open for use by the public.
2. Limited: Travel on this route is limited to the public (seasonal restriction administrative access, vehicle width restriction, non-motorized use, etc.).
3. Closed: Route is closed to one or more uses.
The BLM has developed three action alternatives for these two applicable travel management areas, briefly defined as:
• Alternative B - designed to provide maximum protection to the natural and cultural resources in the area while still providing reasonable access.
• Alternative C - a blend of Alternatives B & D designed to balance the need for access with the natural and cultural resources in the area.
• Alternative D - designed to provide maximum access to the area while providing reasonable protection to important natural and cultural resources.
Who are public lands users?
Travel management planning takes a comprehensive look at the access needs of a wide array of public land users. Starting in 2011, the BLM has been working with the Shoshone-Paiute and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Owyhee County, permittees, and many other organizations. Generally, the land users fall within the following major categories:
This is the largest public lands user group. It includes both motorized and non-motorized users. Motorized users include full-size 4WD enthusiasts, ATV/UTV riders, and off-road motorcyclists. Non-motorized users include equestrians, mountain bikers, hikers, hunters, and rock climbers.
This user group depends on access to public lands for their livelihood. It includes oil and gas companies, mining companies, livestock grazing permittees, commercial seed harvesters, and outfitters. This user group participates in either or both forms of motorized and non-motorized recreation.
Competitive and Organized Group Events
A wide variety of competitive and group events take place on public lands every year and participants include both recreational and/or commercial users. The BLM issues permits: off-road motorcycle races, 4WD group events, mountain bike races, running and adventure races, weddings, and family reunions.
This is a diverse user group, consisting of municipal and county governments, ranchers, power companies, utility companies, and individuals with valid existing rights. They require access in order to maintain utilities/facilities support permitted operations or that are within public lands rights-of-way.