BLM conducts management activities throughout the year to conserve and protect the public lands in Southern Nevada.
The BLM Las Vegas Resource Management Plan (1998) established a limitation for vehicular travel within all Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) within Clark County in order to conserve desert tortoise critical habitat, habitat for sensitive plant and wildlife species and cultural resources. In this plan, vehicle use within the four desert tortoise ACECs and Rainbow Gardens ACEC was limited to designated roads and trails. Use designations within the remaining ACECs were limited to existing roads and trails. Following 1998, BLM identified that new illegal roads and trails were being created in all these ACECs, threatening the protected resources. Funding was received through Clark County’s Desert Conservation Program and the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act in 2003 to inventory existing roads and trails and complete the designation of roads to reduce threats to covered species within Coyote Springs ACEC, Gold Butte ACEC (Parts A, B, and C and overlapping cultural and geologic ACECs), Mormon Mesa ACEC, and Virgin River ACEC. The inventory of 906 miles of routes and 1,724 features was completed in 2007. An Environmental Assessment was developed and BLM designated 812 miles of roads as open and 94 miles of roads as closed on July 15, 2008.
Following road designation, BLM began signing the open routes and signing and restoring closed road segments and habitat damage created by vehicles travelling off designated roads. Monitoring was conducted by BLM staff and its agents on a limited basis due to inadequate funding. Active members of the public and the Southern Nevada Cultural Site Stewardship Program provided additional eyes on the ground, notifying BLM of new resource damage and emerging threats to sensitive areas.
In 2010, additional funding was received through Clark County’s Desert Conservation Program and the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act to further document road conditions and use. Through this project, the BLM determined where resource damage was occurring within ACECs managed by the BLM in Clark County; evaluated why it was occurring; and made management recommendations regarding actions to reduce these impacts. This was accomplished by collecting data on condition and use of designated (non-paved) roads on BLM managed public land within Clark County and making management decisions to help reduce threats to covered species.
The Clark County Desert Conservation Program specifically provided funding for BLM to document the condition of roads and signs; repair and replace signs, markers and kiosks; monitor and document use of roads; document reports of illegal use and BLM’s response; provide information to the public regarding approved roads, and proper use with kiosks, signs, area maps, updated webpages and community outreach events; and validate work conducted by other agencies or volunteers to determine accuracy of volunteer monitoring and suggest improvements.
In 2010 and 2011, BLM will provide additional information to the public on the resources conserved within the ACECs and the use limitations that help reduce threats to those resources. Signs will be installed at key points in the ACECs to provide on-site education, BLM will attend outreach events, the information on the BLM website will be updated, and maps showing the designated roads and trails will be created and available through the BLM website and at the BLM offices.