Bureau of Land Management
BLM Clarifies Guidelines for Travel Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued nationwide planning guidance that allows its field-level staff more time to complete route designations in areas identified as limited. Current guidance requires route designations to be in place before completion of the plan. The instruction memorandum and related information are on the BLM Website at www.blm.gov.
In every plan, the BLM designates areas as open, limited and closed to off-highway vehicle travel. In open areas, off-highway vehicles can travel anywhere. In closed areas, no motorized activity is allowed. In limited areas, off-highway vehicles can travel only on designated routes.
“This is a common sense approach that will better serve the public,” said Ed Shepard, BLM’s Assistant Director for Renewable Resources and Planning. “With this flexibility, our offices can complete their resource management plans, which address many issues, in a reasonable amount of time. Then the field staffs can concentrate on selection of road and trail systems, and give the public more opportunity to be involved in the designations.”
BLM offices try to complete resource management plans within three to five years, depending on complexity. The completion of an entire resource management plan may be delayed for many years, or it may never be completed if conflicts over route designations in limited areas cannot be readily resolved. In almost every resource management planning effort, reaching a decision on designation of off-highway vehicle routes within the planning area is controversial, complex, or hampered by lack of resource data, conflicts in planning schedules, or budget shortages.
The requirement that all designations for open, limited and closed areas be completed during the resource management plan process has not changed. However, instead of requiring that all route-specific road and trail selections in limited areas be completed during the resource management plan process, the new guidance specifies that where route designations cannot be completed within the planning process, they can be completed during the plan’s implementation phase. The guidance strongly recommends they be completed within five years.
The additional time allows the public to be more involved in the selection and resolution of routes, and the BLM to ensure that specific OHV route designations provide for appropriate access, motorized recreation opportunities, and protection of natural and cultural resources.
The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more land — 261 million surface acres — than any other Federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 Western States, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1.9 billion and a workforce of some 10,000 full-time, permanent employees, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on the public lands.