U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
 
August 23, 2007
 
In Reply Refer To:
1741 (220) P
 
EMS TRANSMISSION 09/04/2007
Instruction Memorandum No. 2007-178                
Expires:  09/30/2008
 
To:                   All SDs 
 
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
                       
Subject:            Escape Ramps in Water Developments  DD:  10/15/2007Wildlife
 
Program Areas: Resource Improvement Projects – Water Developments                                                                      
 
Purpose: To remind Field Offices that escape ramps shall be installed and maintained in water development projects on public lands.
 
Background:  Water developments on public lands are designed to meet the needs of livestock, wild horses, and wildlife. To reduce the risk of wildlife fatalities, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has required installation of escape ramps in water developments for many years. (See BLM Manual Handbook H-1741-2 Water Developments 11/06/90 - copies can be ordered by sending an email to BLM_NCS_PMDS@blm.gov). The BLM policy has been to “Install escape ramps in open water troughs and tanks to protect water quality and to reduce wildlife loss.” (Section II-3b).  Water developments that require escape ramps include all troughs, open spring boxes, open tanks, and guzzlers. The policy does not include dirt tanks, pit reservoirs, naturally occurring waters, or closed tanks not accessible to wildlife.
 
Escape ramp designs are limited only by the configuration of the water holding facility. Designs and installation specifications can be found in BLM Handbook 1741-2, “Water Developments,” November 1990; and Technical Bulletin 89-4 “Wildlife Watering and Escape Ramps on Livestock Water Developments:  Suggestions and Recommendations,” Idaho State BLM Office, November 1989 (Update of Technical Note 305).  An electronic version can be accessed at http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/info/publications/technical_bulletins.html#1989.  A more recent publication with suggestions on the installation of wildlife escape ramps is "Water for Wildlife - A Handbook for Ranchers and Range Managers", which can be accessed at http://www.batcon.org/news2/pdf/bciwaterforwildlife.pdf.
 
Policy/Action:  It continues to be the policy of the BLM that water developments on public lands shall be equipped with escape ramps.  This includes both existing and future water developments on public lands regardless of who constructed them, when they were constructed, or how the construction was authorized. All future water developments except for dirt tanks, pit reservoirs, naturally occurring waters, or closed tanks not accessible to wildlife, shall have escape ramps installed immediately upon completion of the project and before use. Authorization for the installation of new water developments must document who is responsible for maintaining the escape ramp.
 
While it may be impossible to prevent all wildlife fatalities associated with water developments, the BLM shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that these projects are as wildlife safe as possible.
 
Inspection
 
  • Field officials shall inspect, or oversee the inspection of, all existing water developments that require escape ramps to document their presence and condition.  Coordination of this work should occur with any personnel in the field that would encounter water developments and could report on the presence and condition of escape ramps, particularly all range and wildlife staff.  To facilitate accomplishment of this workload, grazing permittees/lessees or any other cooperators responsible for water developments can be asked to report on wildlife escape ramps on the projects for which they are responsible.  If an escape ramp is absent or the existing ramp is in need of repair/replacement, field officials must correct the situation as quickly as possible. Individual Cooperative Range Improvement Agreements or Range Improvement Permits need to be reviewed to determine whether or not the installation or maintenance of wildlife escape devices would be the responsibility of the grazing permittee/lessee or other cooperators responsible for the water development.
 
Maintenance
 
  • Field officials shall ensure maintenance of the escape ramps on existing projects is accomplished within a reasonable amount of time and in accordance with the project construction authorization (e.g., Cooperative Range Improvement Agreement or Range Improvement Permit). Where maintenance responsibility for the escape ramp is not specified on the project authorization or cooperative agreement, field officials must either assign maintenance responsibility to the project cooperator or permittee, or ensure that the BLM’s responsibility for maintenance is documented in writing and placed into the project file. 
 
Documentation
 
  • To the extent possible, all activities (inspection, maintenance, etc.) shall be documented using the Project Inspection and Maintenance Record Form 1740-1 and entered into the Rangeland Improvement Project System (RIPS) prior to September 25 of each year. Proper documentation to the project file and correct entry into the RIPS will help ensure that managers and staff are sufficiently aware of the inspection and maintenance needs of existing projects, and may appropriately devote the necessary resources to complete these important tasks.
 
Funding
 
  • Resource Improvement Funds (8100/8200) may be used for this endeavor. A single financial project code can be used for inspection and maintenance of all water developments.  Units of accomplishment for installation or maintenance will be coded to Project Element “JC” (Shrub, Grassland, and Forest Projects Maintained).
 
Timeframe: Field Offices are encouraged to program their workload to ensure every water development on public land that requires escape ramps are equipped with a functioning escape ramp in a timely manner. A progress report is due back to the National Resource Improvement Coordinator in WO 220 by October 15, 2007, and every year thereafter until all water developments that require escape ramps have been inspected and escape ramps have been installed or repaired.  Significant progress has been made during the last three years to inspect and maintain all wildlife escape ramps, however, an increased effort must be made to complete inspections on all remaining water development projects that require escape ramps by the end of Fiscal Year 2009.  
 
Budget Impact: It is not known at this time exactly how many water developments are lacking escape ramps or have ramps that are in need of maintenance. Inspection of all water developments on public lands that require escape ramps will take a significant amount of time and fiscal resources. Maintaining, purchasing, or fabricating, and installing any missing or inadequate escape ramps will also take time. This activity has the potential to be expensive in both labor and operational dollars.
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: H-1741-2 Water Developments.
 
Coordination:  All State Offices, WO 210, WO 220, WO 230, and WO 880.
 
Contact:  Questions regarding this instruction memorandum should be directed to Doug Powell, National Resource Improvement Coordinator, WO 220 at (202) 785-6573 or via email at Doug_Powell@blm.gov or Geoffrey Walsh, Wildlife Biologist, WO 230 at (202) 452-5048 or via email at Geoffrey_Walsh@blm.gov.
 
Signed by:                                                       
Authenticated by:
Robert T. Ratcliffe                                           
Robert M. Williams
Acting, Deputy Assistant Director                    
Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
 
 

 
Last updated: 10-21-2009