Date: January 9, 2009
Contact: Craig Flentie (406) 538-1943
BLM Releases Approved Plan for
Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
Last week the BLM released the Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan (Approved Plan) for the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. The Approved Plan provides guidance for management of about 375,000 acres of BLM in northcentral Montana. Declared a national monument by Presidential Proclamation in 2001, this area offers scenic views of rugged landscapes alongside the 149-mile Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River (UMNWSR).
The Approved Plan emphasizes protection and restoration of the natural resources while providing for resource use and enjoyment. The plan proposes a combination of management actions including allowing natural processes to continue, applying more treatment methods to achieve a natural range of native plant associations, and protecting the remote settings that currently exist in the Monument. Through implementation and monitoring the plan provides more opportunities to respond to increasing visitation and risks to the natural resources that could occur over time.
The Approved Plan identifies cultural and geological sites for interpretation to enhance public awareness of the unique resources and surface features in the landscape that are identified in the proclamation. The plan provides for specific management that will be applied to surface-disturbing and disruptive activities to protect the objects of the Monument including important wildlife habitat. Most of the Monument (73%) is designated as visual resource management Classes I and II to protect the viewshed and visual features in the landscape that are identified in the proclamation.
Under the plan, motorized use on the river will be allowed with seasonal limitations on upstream travel and a seasonal no-wake speed restriction in the wild and scenic segments of the UMNWSR from June 15 to September 15. In addition, the wild and scenic segment from Holmes Council Island to the Fred Robinson Bridge will be restricted to non-motorized watercraft from June 15 to September 15 on Sunday through Wednesday.
The Approved Plan closes about 33% of roads in the monument to motorized travel yearlong and places seasonal restrictions on another 20% of the designated roads. These seasonal restrictions include 81 miles of roads closed for wildlife habitat security during the fall hunting season, although these roads will be available for big game retrieval from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Approved Plan also closes four backcountry airstrips yearlong and places seasonal restrictions on another airstrip.
The environmental impact statement supporting the planning process included the necessary site-specific planning and analysis to move forward with five specific implementation decisions:
- All road designations (roads designated open and closed)
- All backcountry airstrip designations (designated open or closed)
- The group size for boaters(20) launching form Coal Banks or Judith Landing from June 15 to August 1
- The 2-night camping limit at Level 2 sites from June 15 to August 1
- Motorized watercraft restrictions on the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River
These decisions are now appealable for 30 days and the appeal period will continue through Monday, February 9, 2009.
Appeals need to be specific (must pertain to certain roads or airstrips or other portions of these five decisions); must include a statement of reasons or a separate statement of reasons bust be filed within 30 days of filing the appeal; and must detail how the appellant is adversely impacted.
Appeals need to file pursuant to 43 CFR, Part 4, Subpart E and further information on the appeal procedures is contained in the Record of Decision. The Approved Plan and ROD are available at this web site: www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/lewistown_field_office/um_rmp_process.html .
If you have questions about this process, please contact the BLM’s Lewistown Field Office at 406-538-1900.