Prominent among the travel management issues the BLM faces is the complex challenge in managing motorized activities on the public lands. The combined effect of population increases in the west, explosive growth in the use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs), and the advances in technology has generated increased social conflicts and resource impacts on the public lands related to motorized recreation and the impact on other recreation activities and resource uses.
By improving trail and OHV management through land use planning, BLM is minimizing impacts to wildlife habitat; reducing the introduction and spread of invasive weeds; lessening conflicts among various motorized and non-motorized recreation users; and preventing damage to cultural resources resulting from the expansion of roads and trails on public lands. Moving toward a rational system of a designated network of roads and trails through CTTM planning will protect – rather than inhibit – recreational access to the public lands. In the long run, these plans will provide the management foundation to prevent unnecessary closures or restrictions stemming from preventable resource damage or user conflicts.
The BLM public lands host over 55 million recreation visitors annually – an increase of over 80% since 1990. BLM estimates that 22 million of these visitors participate in motorized recreation.
- 9 million who participate in driving for pleasure;
- 12 million who participate in off-highway vehicle travel;
- 500,000 who participate in snowmobiling; and
- 500,000 who participate in other specialized motorized sports, events, and activities.
In compliance with Executive Orders, the BLM OHV regulations form a framework for the agency to establish management areas as either “open”, “limited”, or “closed” to off-road vehicle use. Certain BLM-managed lands also are categorized as “undesignated.”
- "Open" areas are areas where all types of vehicle use is permitted at all times, anywhere in the area.
- "Limited" areas are areas restricted at certain times, in certain areas, and/or to certain vehicular use.
- “Closed” areas are those which are closed to all types of vehicle use and include units of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
BLM management plans do not currently address motorized access in "undesignated" areas. Thus, these "undesignated" lands have no restrictions on motorized access. The vast majority of "undesignated" areas managed by the BLM are in Alaska.
For the 258 million acres of BLM administered lands, the BLM’s current OHV designation status is approximately 32% “open”, 4% “closed”, 48% “limited”, and 16% “undesignated”. Included among the “open” areas, BLM manages approximately 100 specifically designated OHV riding areas.
BLM’s Comprehensive Travel & Transportation Management (CTTM) Program
CTTM is the proactive management of public access and natural resources in compliance with travel-related regulations and according to the best land use management principles. It involves a comprehensive approach that considers various aspects of road and trail system planning and management, specifically natural resource management; road and trail design and maintenance; and recreation and non-recreation uses of roads and trails. Within this context, travel activities are evaluated as a means of access to public lands. They are also evaluated according to the effects all forms of motorized and non-motorized travel have on public lands and resources and on the people who use them.
CTTM addresses all travel-related resource uses, such as recreational, traditional, casual, agricultural, commercial, and educational. It addresses all accompanying modes and conditions of travel as follows:
- Modes of Travel: Although historically focused on motor vehicle use, CTTM encompasses all forms of transportation, including travel by foot, horseback and other livestock; travel by mechanized vehicles, such as bicycles; travel by motorized vehicles, such as two-wheeled (motorcycles) and four-wheeled (all-terrain vehicles, cars, and trucks) vehicles; and travel by motorized and non-motorized boats.
- Conditions of Travel: BLM defines and categorizes its linear assets (travel routes) into the following three “Transportation Asset” designated categories: roads, primitive roads, and trails. Further categorization includes low clearance, high clearance or single track; and conditions are monitored according to each route’s “Maintenance Intensity” level.
Additional information related to travel management on the public lands is available through the following links:
BLM Travel Management Program National Contact