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Butte Field Office
Release Date: 11/17/09
Contacts: David Abrams 406-533-7617    

BLM Travel Plan Appeals Dismissed

The Interior Board of Land Appeals has dismissed all appeals to the travel plan decisions made within the Bureau of Land Management’s Butte Field Office Resource Management Plan, giving the agency the go-ahead to put the travel plans into effect.

The route-specific travel plan decisions in the RMP made earlier this year for the Butte Field Office’s area of responsibility—which includes the Scratchgravel Hills, the North Hills, Marysville, Boulder/Jefferson City, and Upper Big Hole River areas—were subsequently appealed to the IBLA in Washington, DC. Appellants also filed petitions to “stay” (place on immediate hold) the decisions, pending the outcome of the appeals.

Earlier this month, an administrative judge denied the stay petitions and dismissed all the appeals, freeing up the BLM to implement the travel plans.

“We are excited to be moving forward with our travel plan decisions,” said Rick Hotaling, Butte Field Manager. “Travel planning is a long process incorporating public input while trying to balance multiple uses with the health of the land. We are looking forward to starting the implementation of these travel plan decisions.”

The BLM released the Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan for the Butte Field Office on May 22.  The comprehensive land-use plan provides guidance for management of about 307,000 acres of public land and about 661,000 acres of federal mineral estate lands administered by the Field Office. The RMP also included route-specific travel plan decisions for five geographic areas identified as the Boulder/Jefferson City Travel Planning Area, East Helena TPA (North Hills, Ward Ranch, Spokane Hills, and Townsend areas), Helena TPA (Scratchgravel Hills area), Lewis and Clark County NW TPA(Marysville and Lincoln/Sieben Ranch areas), and Upper Big Hole River TPA( Jimmie New, Fishtrap, and Humbug Spires areas).

In developing the plans to fulfill its multiple-use mission, the BLM made decisions on travel routes which would provide appropriate public access to BLM-administered lands; minimize damage to soil, watershed, vegetation, air, or other resources; minimize harassment of wildlife or significant disruption of wildlife habitats, with special attention being given to protect endangered or threatened species and their habitats; and minimize conflicts between off-road vehicle use and other existing or proposed recreational uses of the same or neighboring public lands. Each route was evaluated to recommend its future management status as either open, open/with restrictions, closed, or decommissioned.

Hotaling noted that the Butte Field Office will be installing signs on the open routes in the near future. Only open routes will have signs; closed routes will not be designated with signs.

For more information on the RMP, including specific open and closed travel routes, visit For more information on implementation of the travel plans, contact Sherri Lionberger at the Butte Field Office at 406-533-7671.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

Butte Field Office   106 N. Parkmont      Butte, MT 59702   

Last updated: 06-28-2012