Steens Mountain Comprehensive Recreation Plan

Current Status

The Decision Record for the Comprehensive Recreation Plan was released to the public on Wednesday, April 15. The Decision implements various components from all alternatives analyzed. The multiple aspects are divided into two sections: 1) Travel Management (including motorized and non-motorized routes); and 2) Recreation Management. The Steens Mountain Travel Management Plan will be amended to reflect changes to road maintenance, a change in maintenance terminology (maintenance level to maintenance intensity), designations of additional trails and roads, changes to road usage, and openings and closures of roads under the Decision. In addition, several recreational opportunities will be afforded to help manage recreation within and outside the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area.

UPDATE: The Honorable Paul Papak, United States Magistrate Judge (District Court for Oregon), ruled June 5, 2015—in addition to the route closures in the Steens Mountain Comprehensive Recreation Plan (CRP) Decision Record, the following "Obscure Routes" will be temporarily closed until the lawsuit ONDA v BLM, 09-cv-369 is resolved: OR-4, OR-6, OR-7, OR-10, OR-11, OR-12, OR-17, OR-20, OR-26, OR-28, and OR-29. (The CRP Decision Record closes the following routes and the Court's ruling makes the closure immediately effective: OR-01, OR-03, OR-05, OR-08, OR-13, OR-14, OR-16, OR-19, OR-22, OR-24, OR-27, OR-30, OR-31, OR-35, and OR-37.)

Project Background

The Steens Mountain Recreation Lands were officially designed on July 31, 1971. The area consisted of a total of 193,856 acres of which 40,692 acres were private and 1,031 acres were state-managed lands. The Steens Mountain Recreation Lands were incorporated into the Steens Mountain CMPA in 2000 (through the Steens Mountain CMPA Act (Steens Act)). Today, the CMPA consists of a total of 496,133 acres of which 67,650 acres are private and 1,070 acres are state lands.

Among the provisions of the Steens Act, several specifically mention recreation. The Steens Act directed the BLM through the Secretary of the Interior to promote viable and sustainable recreation (Sec. 1 and 102); recognize and allow current and historic recreational use (Sec. 111); manage special recreation use permits (Sec. 115); and provide opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation (Sec. 302). These provisions must be read within the framework of other Steens Act direction; however, the recreation provisions are provided here to illustrate specific direction to recreation.

The Steens Act required the BLM to prepare a management plan for the CMPA. The Steens Mountain CMPA Resource Management Plan (RMP)/Record of Decision (ROD) along with the Steens Mountain Wilderness and WSR Plan were completed in 2005. The ROD/RMP directed BLM to address and analyze in a Comprehensive Recreation Plan any facilities or actions to accommodate or manage existing or anticipated recreation use (ROD-67).

The Steens Mountain Comprehensive Recreation Plan (CRP) was re-released to the public January 14, 2015 for a 30-day comment period. The CRP Environmental Assessment was first released in March 2014. On September 30, 2014, the Interior Board of Land Appeals reversed their earlier decision regarding Obscure Routes designated in the Steens Mountain Travel Management Plan in 2007 and found that "with regard to our previous reversal of BLM's decision to designate Obscure Routes as open to motorized travel, we now vacate our prior reversal and affirm BLM's designation of all of the Obscure Routes as open to motorized travel" (185 IBLA at 63-64).

To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regarding IBLA's September decision, BLM is further reviewing transportation and recreation planning through this CRP EA. Under the No Action Alternative "obscure routes" (33 segments, totally approximately 36 miles) are now considered open and analyzed as the existing condition. Sub-alternative B analyzes permanent closure of some "obscure routes," some administrative use only routes, and one All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) route. Also within Sub-alternative B, a reroute of Little Blitzen Trailhead and roads existing prior to 2000 are being analyzed and added into the transportation system. The remaining alternatives consider all "obscure routes" as closed.

Based on this new information and the development and modification of alternatives, BLM is providing an additional public comment period. The BLM is soliciting comments specifically on Alternative A (No Action) and Sub-alternative B (Modification of Additional Routes).

Documents Available

Route Analysis forms 1-14 review roads proposed for closure in Alternative E of the Comprehensive Recreation Plan. Forms 15-19 (there is no #18) review roads proposed for closure in Alternative B.

Obscure Route Analysis forms 1-39 review roads analyzed in Sub-Alternative B of the Comprehensive Recreation Plan.

Contact Information

For further information about the Steens Mountain Comprehensive Recreation Plan, or to have your name added to the project mailing list, contact the Comprehensive Recreation Plan Project Lead at 541-573-4400.

Mail or deliver to:
Steens Mountain Comprehensive Recreation Plan Project Lead
BLM Burns District Office
28910 Highway 20 West, Hines, Oregon 97738

Attn: Steens Mountain Comprehensive Recreation Plan Project Lead