Travel management planning is the identification of a transportation system by provider agencies and organizations through interdisciplinary assessments and analyses. A resulting set of objectives and actions explain why and how certain roads, trail systems, and associated lands are to be managed and used to meet transportation needs.
In the early 1980s, in response to Presidential Executive Orders 11644 and 11989, the Bureau of Land Management began assigning all public lands an off-highway vehicle designation. As defined below, three categories exist: open, limited, and closed.
- Open - All types of vehicle use is unrestricted at all times, anywhere in the area.
- Limited - Vehicle use is restricted in certain areas, at certain times, and/or to certain types of vehicles.
- Closed - All vehicle use is prohibited. (Closed areas include units of the National Wilderness Preservation System.)
BLM Colorado manages 8.3 million acres of public lands. Of these lands, 42 percent are designated as open, 48 percent are limited, and 10 percent are closed to off-highway vehicle use.
During the 1990's, Colorado's Resource Advisory Council (RAC) spearheaded an effort to develop recreation guidelines that would meet the BLM's Public Land Health Standards. These guidelines were born out of the RAC's concerns about a proliferation of unplanned roads and trails impacting the health of public lands and resources. Meanwhile, on a national level, the BLM was responding to an increasing demand for recreation trails on public lands. The BLM developed an off-highway vehicle strategy, followed by plans regarding mountain biking. Guidelines for non-motorized and non-mechanized recreation are to be established. These actions emphasize that the BLM should be proactive in seeking travel management solutions that conserve natural resources while simultaneously providing ample recreation opportunities.
In spring 2003, the BLM's Executive Leadership Team approved the BLM's Priorities for Recreation and Visitor Services. The importance of this guidance is underscored by the establishment of the first of three key recreation goals for the Department of the Interior's Strategic Plan to "establish a comprehensive approach to travel planning and management." Five subordinate milestones round out this priority:
- Address comprehensive travel management through land-use plans to improve access, opportunities and experiences.
- Improve on-the-ground travel management operations and maintenance to sustain opportunities, experiences, access, safety, and resource conservation.
- Improve signing, mapping, travel information, and education.
- Implement travel management through national motorized, mechanized and non-motorized recreation strategies.
- Expand transportation and travel management partnerships and funding sources.