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BLM Access Team Addresses Public Need

Story and photos by Mark E. Jacobsen, Miles City FO

access team members discuss sign placement on a ridge south of Jordan
BLM summer seasonal staffers (L to R) Mary Bobst, Reese Power, Curtis DeVault and Access Team members Kent Undlin and Dan Fox discuss sign placement on the Lone Tree project south of Jordan July 28. The seasonal help provided welcome assistance with signing projects and easement research.

BLM employee posts a boundary marker

Miles City FO GIS specialist Jen Nagy posts a boundary marker on the Lone Tree access project in Garfield County Aug. 11. Previously, the popular area had no signage which made both trespass onto adjacent private property and access to BLM land a problem.

The Miles City Field Office Access Team has addressed a series of access-related concerns on eastern Montana BLM land; the most recent was the Lone Tree project located about nine miles south of Jordan in Garfield County.

The Lone Tree project area includes several BLM sections accessible from State Highway 59; these link to a partial section of state land, giving access to an additional 12-plus sections of federal land. Due to the somewhat flat topography, the surrounding private land and the lack of adjacent block management parcels, public access was confusing and problematic.

Boundary posting of the first phase of the project was completed Sept. 16, clarifying the boundaries and removing some of the guesswork for the public. The rest of the project will be completed at a later date.

The Miles City FO Access Team identified this area as a “Tier 4” project and later confirmed the need for signage with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 7.  

To better prioritize action items, team members devised a methodology in February 2008 to separate projects into four categories or “tiers.”  The tier levels categorize projects according to their complexity, expense and how much time they would require. 

A Tier 4 project is generally the least expensive and time-consuming of the levels and is commonly addressed by boundary signing, easement identification and alternative route development. Sometimes it’s as simple as ensuring BLM maps are updated accurately.  Tier 3 projects deal with easement acquisition, both short and long-term.  Tier 2 projects cover travel management scenarios, and Tier 1 items deal with land exchanges.

Access team members have met with local sportsmen and have added team members from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and the Custer National Forest who have requested involvement and input.

All Miles City FO Access Team staff volunteered and come from a variety of resource disciplines.  Access work projects are accomplished in addition to the team members’ regular work assignments.

Partnering with Montana FWP Regions 6 and 7 has been particularly productive from both a manpower and team perspective; both FWP regions have completed extensive BLM boundary signing projects in several counties beginning in the early 2009 through the summer.

The Miles City FO and FWP Regions 6 and 7 share GPS data on sign locations, building a database to accurately reflect what is on the ground. Miles City FO summer seasonal personnel have also assisted in ground-truthing roads and easements, which has improved project lists accuracy and additional access options.

Currently the team is tracking 121 projects and will add more as the team meets to discuss findings by BLM staff and FWP through the remainder of 2009.





Last updated: 06-28-2012