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California Desert District


California Desert Conservation Area

Recreational Use

Q. What did FLPMA mean when it told BLM to provide for public use?

A. The legislation mandated that the use of all California desert resources can and should be provided for in a multiple use and sustained yield management plan to conserve these resources for present and future generations to enjoy.

FLPMA recognized that recreation is an appropriate and major component within the CDCA. Visitors spend more than 20 million visitor days a year in the desert, making it one of the most heavily visited recreation areas in the United States.

Q. What kinds of recreation can you enjoy in the Desert?

A. The variety is tremendous and includes hiking, hunting, camping, rockhounding, landsailing, sightseeing, and the use of off-highway recreational vehicles (OHVs).

Q. What did FLPMA say about OHVs?

A. FLPMA recognized the popularity of OHV use in the desert, and directed that BLM provide present and future use and enjoyment, particularly outdoor recreation uses, including the use, where appropriate, of off-road recreational vehicles.

Q. How does BLM's Plan provide for "appropriate" use of off-highway vehicles?

A. The plan designates public lands as open, limited, or closed to OHV use. About 500,000 acres are designated as open to intensive OHV use, such as portions of the Imperial Sand Dunes that draw tens of thousands of visitors on holiday weekends. Another 4 million acres are closed to OHV use because they are located in designated wilderness areas or contain extremely sensitive resources. The remaining land is in the limited category.

Q. What does the "limited" category mean?

A. Limited means that off-highway vehicles are allowed on existing or approved routes of travel. The nature of the restriction is posted on signs and in public information materials, including detailed maps available from BLM, called Desert Access Guides. These guides show approved routes of travel and points of interest.

Q. Is OHV racing allowed in the CDCA?

A. Yes. There is a large racing program in the desert, mainly in the open areas such as Johnson and Stoddard Valleys, Spangler Hills and the Superstition Mountains.

Next section: The Future of the CDCA