BLM Taos finalizes the Horsethief Mesa Travel Management Plan
TAOS, N.M. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Taos Field Office signed a Decision Record approving the Horsethief Mesa Travel Management Plan, officially designating nearly 36 miles of routes and trails and authorizing the development of improved access and trailhead parking within 2,060 acres of Río Grande del Norte National Monument, northwest of Arroyo Hondo, N.M.
The decision is based on an Environmental Assessment prepared by the BLM, in consultation with the public, to evaluate the potential impacts of the Travel Management Plan. The agency analyzed and considered five alternatives that addressed non-motorized and motorized modes of travel and access for recreational and other traditional uses, while considering potential impacts to cultural resources, wildlife, vegetative communities, soils, and visual resources.
The agency released the draft Environmental Assessment for public comment on May 13, 2021. A total of 86 comments were received during the 30-day comment period. The BLM responded to substantive comments by either revising the document or providing a reason a comment did not warrant a change.
After review of the public comments, the agency chose Alternative E, which approves 14 miles of new trail segments contingent upon pending surveys that provide for the avoidance of important cultural and biological resources and the completion of respective consultations with Native American Tribes, the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as required by law.
The decision also includes limiting motorized travel to 6.34 miles of routes to maintain access for fishing, hunting, fuelwood collection, and other uses, while closing approximately 10 miles of largely redundant two-track routes.
The Travel Management Plan is a balanced approach to using public lands and includes a robust set of measures designed to avoid or mitigate potential impacts to Río Grande del Norte National Monument objects and resource values through adaptive management, design features, seasonal limitations, best management practices, and other measures.
The public can review the Decision Record, which includes responses to public comments on the analysis, the Finding of No Significant Impacts document, and the final Environmental Assessment by visiting the agency’s National NEPA Register at https://go.usa.gov/xvQh9.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.