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NEWS.BYTES EXTRA, Issue 280  

BLM’s CenCal RAC Tours Atwell Island and Decides to Tackle OHV Management Issues

BLM’s Central California Resource Advisory Council (RAC) met in late April and reviewed a successful “land retirement” demonstration project at Atwell Island, and heard concerns about management of off-highway vehicle use in other parts of the region.

In response to the latter issue, the RAC decided to establish a subgroup to explore options and gather ideas. The initial focus will be the Clear Creek Management Area under the jurisdiction of BLM’s Hollister Field Office. Field Manager Rick Cooper said he has some immediate issues to address, including working with user groups and landowners regarding health and safety concerns involving asbestos hazards in the popular riding area.      

 Steve Laymon, Atwell Island project manager, giving RAC members a tour of the project site.
Steve Laymon, Atwell Island project manager, right, giving RAC members a tour of the project area.

Atwell Island is located in a portion of the now-drained Tulare Lake, once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. The dry lake’s water is now stored behind dams and used for agriculture. The Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 authorized a “land retirement program” to reduce the accumulation of drain water and lessen disposal problems. An interagency team, including representatives from BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, and Fish and Wildlife Service, oversees this program, including the demonstration project at Atwell Island in Kings and Tulare counties. 

- D. Christy, 5/7/07

BLM California News.bytes, issue 280