Proposed amendment to Standard Management and Management Unit Prescriptions for Off-Road Vehicle (OHV) use and designations in the Uncompahgre Basin Resource Management Plan, July, 1989

This Proposed Amendment to the Uncompahgre Basin Resource Management Plan (RMP) dated July 1989, will affect existing designations for wheeled, motorized and non-motorized mechanical off-highway vehicle use on public lands administered by the Uncompahgre Field Office (UFO) located east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties (see map attached) where that use is now permitted seasonally or year long. This Proposed Amendment will affect the management prescriptions for part or all of some Management Units described and shown in the subject RMP. Standard Management Direction for Off-Road Vehicles, page 11 in Chapter Two, in the Uncompahgre Basin RMP, will also be changed by this Proposed Amendment. This Proposed Amendment will not close any routes or trails that are existing, established and regularly used as of January 12, 2001, anywhere on public lands in the UFO. Any routes created after that date without specific agency authorization will be closed to motorized or mechanized use. Maps of existing routes and trails are available for review in the Uncompahgre Field Office. If we overlooked a route or trail, we will investigate to determine if it was established and receiving regular use as of January 12, 2001, and should therefore be added to the map.

This Proposed Amendment will not affect current motorized or non-motorized access allowed under terms and conditions of a valid BLM-issued or other federal lease, right-of-way, permit, or other forms of approved land use authorizations. Valid existing rights will not be affected. Authorized agency administrative uses, and motorized or non-motorized vehicular access normally authorized to others during the administration of agency contracts, will not be affected by the Proposed Amendment. Snowmobile use will not be affected by this Proposed Amendment.

The underlying purpose of this Proposed Amendment is to prevent the creation of new, unauthorized transportation routes on the affected lands until more detailed transportation analysis and planning can be done. The fact that a route is authorized for use by this action does not confer any "special status" to that route regarding future planning and management. All existing routes will be considered during subsequent route-by-route transportation planning, in close cooperation with the public, to determine which should remain in use, which should be closed, and the appropriate types of use for each.

STANDARD MANAGEMENT FOR THE RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN AFFECTED BY THIS PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE UNCOMPAHGRE BASIN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN

Description of the STANDARD MANAGEMENT for Off-Road Vehicle travel language for the Uncompahgre Basin RMP, page 11, Uncompahgre Basin Resource Management Plan and Record of Decision, July, 1989:

Off-Road Vehicles. Public lands will be open to off-road vehicle (ORV) use.

Description of the Proposed Amendment for the language above.

    Unless otherwise specified in management unit prescriptions or specifically authorized by the BLM, travel off-route or cross-country using wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles, including mountain bikes, on public lands administered by the UFO east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties, will be prohibited year long. This use will be limited to existing, established routes and trails that are included in the UFO road and trail inventory as of January 12, 2001. If the inventory overlooked a route or trail, it will be investigated to determine if it was easily recognizable on the ground as a route and had been routinely traveled by users as of January 12, 2001. Any routes created after that date without specific agency authorization will be considered closed to motorized or mechanized use.

    Wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles will be permitted for camping, picnicking, and forest product gathering only within 300 feet either side of existing established routes or trails as long as that use does not result in resource damage. If BLM identifies areas where unacceptable resource damage is occurring, corrective measures will be taken. Snowmobiles may operate on snow unless winter wildlife closures are in effect.

    On any public lands administered by the UFO east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties, the use of motorized vehicles will not be permitted cross-country or off existing established routes to retrieve game but mechanical, non-motorized game carts will be permitted. For these purposes, an existing route is defined as one that is included in the UFO road and trail inventory as of January 12, 2001, or BLM determines existed and should have been included as of that date. If the public encounters a route that is easily recognizable on the ground and has been routinely traveled it can continue to be used unless the BLM determines that it was created after January 12, 2001. The Field Office Manager may, at his or her discretion, grant permission to individuals considered legally disabled to use motorized or mechanized vehicles off of existing routes. Cross-country, off route travel is defined as traveling cross-country and off established, existing routes using any wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical device or vehicle, including mountain bikes. This definition includes, and prohibits, the use of a vehicle on a smaller route not intended for that use (e.g. using an ATV or full sized vehicle on a single track trail). Typical examples of off-highway vehicles include 2-or-4-wheel drive motorized passenger vehicles, motorcycles, multi-wheeled all-terrain vehicles, and mountain bikes. This definition includes any vehicle or device being used to travel cross-country or off established routes, regardless of the type of use the vehicle was designed and intended for.

    Some roads or routes normally or routinely closed during part of the year will continue to be kept closed in the spring or other seasons as necessary until resource damage would likely not occur. Emergency road closures will occur if unacceptable resource damage occurs. The BLM will continue to recognize and respond to the need for seasonal closures on the affected lands in order to prevent or mitigate potential resource damage by installing gates at key access points, for instance to restrict spring access until roads have dried out.

MANAGEMENT UNITS AND PRESCRIPTIONS AFFECTED BY THIS PROPOSED AMENDMENT IN THE UNCOMPAHGRE BASIN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN

MANAGEMENT UNIT 2

67,320 Acres of Public Surface

Description of the OHV designation in the unit in the Uncompahgre Basin RMP dated July, 1989:

    Off-Road Vehicles. A total of 2,482 acres In the Camel Back/upper Roubideau Creek drainage area will be closed to ORV use. Vehicle use In the remainder of the management unit will be limited to designated roads and trails from December 1 through April 30. Variances to this seasonal limitation may be granted If ORV use would not result In any negative impacts on wintering deer and elk.

Description of the Proposed Amendment to the above language

    Off-Road Vehicles. A total of 2,482 acres within the unit, in the Camel Back/upper Roubideau Creek drainage area, will continue to be closed to wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles. These lands will also be closed to mountain bikes. On approximately 36,615 acres of public lands in elk and deer crucial winter range in the part of the unit located east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties, off-route, off-highway use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles, including mountain bikes, will be prohibited yearlong. Use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles will be permitted for camping and forest product gathering only within 300 feet either side of existing established routes or trails as long as that use does not result in resource damage. The use of motorized vehicles will not be permitted cross-country or off existing established routes to retrieve game.

    Use by off-higway, off-route wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles on public lands in the remainder of this Management Unit in the UFO will be limited to designated routes and trails from December 1 through April 30 if necessary, to prevent disturbance to wintering deer and elk. Variances to this seasonal limitation may be granted if the requested use will not result in any negative impacts on wintering deer and elk.

MANAGEMENT UNIT 3

47,607 Acres of Public Surface; 10 percent 0f the Planning Area

Description of the OHV designation in the unit in the Uncompahgre Basin RMP dated July 1989:

    Off-Road Vehicles. The management unit will be open to ORV use except in crucial deer and elk winter range (28,552 acres) where vehicle use will be limited to designated roads and trails from December 1 through April 30 if necessary to reduce Stress on wintering deer and elk. Use of ORVs for woodland management and harvest purposes will be authorized year-round.

Description of the Proposed Amendment to the above language.

    On approximately 1,112 acres of public lands in elk and deer crucial winter range in the part of the Management Unit located east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties, off-route, off-highway use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles, including mountain bikes, will be prohibited yearlong. Use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles will be permitted for camping and forest product gathering only within 300 feet either side of existing established routes or trails as long as that use does not result in resource damage. The use of motorized vehicles will not be permitted cross-country or off existing established routes to retrieve game.

    Public lands in the remainder of the unit in the UFO (46,495 acres) will remain open to wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicle use, except in crucial deer and elk winter range where vehicle use will be limited to designated roads and trails from December 1 through April 30 if necessary to reduce stress on wintering deer and elk. Use of ORVs for woodland management and harvest purposes will be authorized year-round on the remainder of the unit.

MANAGEMENT UNIT 5

24,117 Acres of Public Surface; 5 percent of the Planning Area

Description of the OHV designation in the unit in the Uncompahgre Basin RMP dated July 1989:

    Off-Road Vehicles. To protect highly saline soils, vehicle use In the entire management unit will be limited to designated roads and trails yearlong.

Description of the Proposed Amendment to the above language.

    On approximately 1,329 acres of public lands on highly saline soils in the part of the unit located east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties, off-route, off-highway use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles, including mountain bikes, will be prohibited yearlong. Use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles will be permitted for camping, picnicking, and forest product gathering only within 300 feet either side of existing established routes or trails as long as that use does not result in resource damage. The use of motorized vehicles will not be permitted cross-country or off existing established routes to retrieve game.

    Vehicle use on public lands in the remainder of the unit in the UFO will be limited to designated roads and trails yearlong to protect these highly saline soils.

MANAGEMENT UNIT 7

17,232Acres of PublicSurface;4 percent of the Planning Area

Description of the OHV designation in the unit in the Uncompahgre Basin RMP dated July 1989:

    Off-Road Vehicles. Vehicle use in the riparian zones associated with Bear and Roatcap creeks will be limited to designated roads and trails yearlong. Vehicle use in crucial deer and elk winter range (1,730 acres) will be limited to designated roads and trails from December 1 through April 30 If necessary to reduce stress on wintering deer and elk.

Description of the Proposed Amendment to the above language.

    Of the approximately 16,119 acres of public land in the unit located east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties, off-route, off-highway use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles, including mountain bikes, will be prohibited yearlong. The use of motorized vehicles will not be permitted cross-country or off existing established routes to retrieve game. This limitation of use is to protect resource values, including riparian areas and soils, and elk and deer wintering on crucial winter range.

    On public lands in the remainder of the unit in the UFO, use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles, including mountain bikes, in crucial deer and elk winter range will be limited to designated roads and trails from December 1 through April 30, if necessary, to reduce stress on wintering deer and elk.

MANAGEMENT UNIT 9

6,320 Acres of Public Surface; 1 percent of the Planning Area

Description of the OHV designation in the unit in the Uncompahgre Basin RMP dated July 1989:

    Off-Road Vehicles. A total of 680 acres in Roubideau and Potter creeks will be closed to ORV use. Vehicle use in the remainder of the management unit will be limited to designated roads and trails yearlong.

Description of the Proposed Amendment to the above language.

    On approximately 726 acres of public lands in riparian areas in the part of the unit located east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties, off-route, off-highway use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles, including mountain bikes, will be prohibited yearlong. Use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles will be permitted for camping, picnicking, and forest product gathering only within 300 feet either side of existing established routes or trails as long as that use does not result in resource damage. The use of motorized vehicles will not be permitted cross-country or off existing established routes to retrieve game.

    On public lands in the remainder of the unit in the UFO, off road vehicle use will be limited to designated roads and trails year long, with the exception of a total of 680 acres in Roubideau and Potter creeks, which will remain closed to ORV use.

MANAGEMENT UNIT 14

80 Acres of Public Surface; less than 1 percent of the Planning Area

Description of the OHV designation in the unit in the Uncompahgre Basin RMP dated July 1989:

    Off-Road Vehicles. Vehicle use within the management unit will be limited to designated roads and trails year long.

Description of the Proposed Amendment to the above language.

    On the public lands in the approximately 80-acre Needle Rock Outstanding Natural Area/Area of Critical Environmental Concern that is located in the part of the unit east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties, off-route, off-highway use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles, including mountain bikes, will be limited to designated routes yearlong. If no routes are designated, this use will not be permitted off any existing route, trail, or road in the unit.

MANAGEMENT UNIT 16

48,422 Acres of Public Surface; 10 percent of the Planning Area

Description of the OHV designation in the unit in the Uncompahgre Basin RMP dated July 1989:

    Off-Road Vehicles. Public lands within the management unit will be open to ORV use.

Description of the Proposed Amendment to the above language.

    On approximately 12,748 acres of public lands in that part of the unit located east or north of Colorado Highways 62 and 92 in Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties, off-route, off-highway use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles, including mountain bikes, will be prohibited year long. Use by wheeled, motorized or non-motorized mechanical vehicles will be permitted for camping, picnicking, and forest product gathering only within 300 feet either side of existing established routes or trails as long as that use does not result in resource damage. The use of motorized vehicles will not be permitted cross-country or off existing established routes to retrieve game. This limitation of use is to protect resources, including soils and watershed values.

The remainder of the public lands in management unit 16 are outside of the affected area and will remain open to ORV use.