In the early 1980s, in response to Presidential Executive Orders 11644 and 11989, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began designating all public lands in one of three Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) designation categories. Arizona has 12.2 million acres of public lands: less than 1 percent are designated "open," 88 percent "limited," and 11 percent "closed" to OHV use. Public has expressed concern about proliferation of unplanned roads and trails and their impact on biophysical resource land health. Meanwhile, on a national level and in response to increasing demand for trails recreation on the public lands, BLM developed first an OHV Strategy and then a Mountain Bike Strategy. These strategies emphasize that the BLM should be proactive in seeking travel management solutions that conserve natural resources while providing for ample recreation opportunities. In 2003, BLM's Executive Leadership Team approved BLM's Priorities for Recreation and Visitor Services. The importance of this guidance is underscored by the first of three key Department of Interior's Strategic Plan recreation goals to "Establish a comprehensive approach to travel planning and management." Five subordinate milestones round out this priority:
- address comprehensive travel management through the land-use planning process
- improve on-the-ground travel management operations
- improve signing, mapping, travel information, and education
- implement travel management through national motorized, mechanized, and non-motorized recreation strategies and
- expand transportation/travel management partnerships and funding sources.
Travel management in Arizona will be:
- Comprehensive: Managers need to look at more than just OHV use to include all motorized and non-motorized travel that occurs on public lands.
- Multi-functional: Broader participation from all resource disciplines from within BLM is essential.
- Collaborative: Travel plans should be accomplished in a collaborative, industry, and community based process.
- Outcome based: Travel systems should be designed for safe and efficient transportation outcomes.
- Implemented: Travel management implementation should be accomplished in a holistic approach that provides clear direction for access and recreation opportunities while protecting sensitive areas. This includes signs, maps, education, maintenance, construction, reconstruction, planning, field presence, law enforcement, and monitoring.