Print Page
February 10, 2012
In Reply Refer To:
8100 (240) P  
Instruction Memorandum No. 2012-067
Expires: 09/30/2013
To:                  All Field Officials
From:              Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:          Clarification of Cultural Resource Considerations for Off-Highway Vehicle Designations and Travel Management 
Program Areas: Cultural Resources; Travel Management; Recreation; Planning
PurposeAs part of its comprehensive travel management program, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) incorporates road and trail access guidance into every Land Use Plan (LUP). At a minimum, by regulation, every plan designates all public lands as open, limited, or closed to Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) use. For limited use areas, the BLM designates a network of roads and trails and may establish other limiting criteria, such as the volume and type of vehicular use and the time and season of use. The BLM considers designations of travel areas, roads and trails to be undertakings for the purposes of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).  Therefore, the Section 106 consultation process must be completed before the BLM authorized officer signs the decision record for the designation.
Designation of areas and specific travel management networks of roads and trails generally has the beneficial effect of controlling impacts of OHV use on public lands, including historic properties and traditional use areas. Designation provides a purposefully designed and clearly delineated travel management network for OHV usage, reduces the potential for user-caused route proliferation, and facilitates travel management and law enforcement efforts. In addition, route designations prohibit indiscriminate cross country travel that causes or may cause adverse impacts to historic properties and other resources. Where ongoing use of designated routes and areas has caused or may cause considerable adverse effects to historic properties, 43 CFR Part 8341.2 and 8364 authorize closure to the types of travel responsible.
This Instruction Memorandum (IM) supersedes IM 2007-030 and provides clarification on the manner in which the BLM complies with Section 106 for designation and management of OHV- managed areas, roads, and trails (see 43 CFR 8342 and 43 CFR 8340.0-5) on the public lands. In particular, it addresses the challenge of many Field Offices in making a reasonable and good faith effort to identify historic properties when making travel management decisions. This IM also explains the role of LUPs, monitoring, OHV route and area improvement and maintenance projects, and emergency route and area closures in the process the BLM follows to meet its responsibilities under Section 106 and 110 of the NHPA to protect historic properties. 
Policy and ActionWhen designating and managing OHV areas and routes, the appropriate level of effort for identifying historic properties will vary depending on the specific geographic area, type of decision, quality of existing information, and the potential for adverse effects to historic properties, as the BLM complies with Section 106 according to the BLM national Programmatic Agreement (PA) and applicable state protocol or 36 CFR Part 800[1] regulations.
Considering Cultural Resources in Land Use Planning (LUP): Comprehensive travel management planning is an interdisciplinary process. In accordance with 43 CFR 8342, designation of areas and trails shall be located to minimize damage to resources of the public lands, including cultural resources. Existing cultural resource information and potential impacts to historic properties must be considered when choosing among the range of alternatives and assessing impacts for designation of OHV areas and a travel management network in either a LUP or a travel management plan design, including the potential impacts on cultural resources when determining whether each of the routes or areas in a planning area should be designated as open, limited, or closed. Manual Section 8130 established policy that every new and revised LUP incorporate current information on cultural resources inventory, information needs, use allocations, protection issues, and special management concerns at an appropriate scale and level of detail. Designation of specific roads, primitive roads, and trails and the imposition of other use limitations should avoid impacts on historic properties where possible (8130.06). 
Area of Potential Effect (APE) for Designation Decisions: Section 106 requires agencies to identify the geographic area or areas within which the character or use of any historic properties may be directly or indirectly affected by an undertaking. The APE for designations includes areas designated open, closed or limited for OHV use, specific roads and trails, and adjacent locations where various OHV-related activities are authorized or allowed, such as staging areas for events and roadside parking and camping. The APE should also include areas that might suffer indirect effects from OHV use, such as access routes leading to at-risk sites vulnerable to vandalism and looting (e.g. historic or prehistoric structures, rock shelters, or rock art) or increased erosion to sites. 
Cultural Resources Inventory Requirements: Inventory requirements, priorities, and strategies will vary depending on the quality of existing information, the extent of potential change to the location by OHV use, the expected density and nature of historic properties (see BLM Manual 8110), and the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of proposed designations. 
Where large geographic areas are involved, a Field Office should develop practical inventory strategies based on existing information, in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), tribes and other interested parties. The Class III (an intensive pedestrian inspection) inventory level is defined as a standard intended to identify historic properties when a proposed undertaking would disturb the land surface or affect the integrity of historic properties. However, other forms of inventory exist (e.g. Class I, reconnaissance and Class II sampling inventory) which may help to define areas of concern or may be sufficient for purposes of Section 106 compliance. 
  1. Designations of new routes or areas, or new localities where concentrated OHV use may occur have the potential to cause effects to historic properties. Historic properties in the APE must be identified and any potential adverse effects must be resolved prior to designation.  Appropriate inventory of the APE and tribal consultation should be conducted prior to authorizing use of  new locations proposed as staging areas or similar areas of concentrated OHV use. For those areas with limited cultural resource information, a phased inventory approach, developed in consultation with the SHPO, may be appropriate in order to allow continued use of an existing route network or to retain an open area, if those areas have not previously been inventoried. For instance, a Class II inventory[2][4], or development and field testing of a cultural resources probability model, followed by Class III inventory in high potential areas and for specific development projects should be considered for larger planning areas for which limited information is currently available. 
Where a road and trail network cannot be designated in a LUP because cultural resources inventories cannot be accomplished in time, cultural resource staff must work closely with the travel management Planning Lead and Planning staff to include a map of a preliminary travel network and short-term management guidelines. The LUP then must establish a strategy for performing cultural resource inventory to compliment the Field Office travel management and implementation timeline.  There may be cases where continued use of an OHV management area or route prior to designation may not be authorized before Class III inventory and Section 106 compliance is completed. 
  1. Designations that (1) allow continued use of an existing route or (2) retain an open area will not typically have  adverse effects to historic properties. However, it could allow the continuation of any ongoing adverse effects to historic properties. Careful review of existing information and the results of previous and ongoing monitoring of OHV route and area use can inform the need for any new cultural resource identification, evaluation, and protection efforts. 
  1. Proposed designations that:  (1) impose new limitations on an existing route; (2) close an open route or area; or (3) keep an area closed will not typically have an effect on historic resources in the APE, but have the potential to cause effects if the decision results in a shift, concentration, or expansion of travel onto other existing routes or into areas that are likely to have historic properties. Where there is a reasonable expectation that a proposed designation will shift, concentrate or expand travel into areas where historic properties are likely to be adversely affected, Class II or Class III inventory focused on areas where adverse effects are likely to occur is recommended prior to designation. 
  1. Evaluation of routes or areas to be designated as closed to protect cultural resources may be based on existing inventory information and may be implemented through appropriate level of National Environmental Policy Act analysis, including issuance of a temporary closure.  
Avoiding, Minimizing and Mitigating Adverse Effects: Known sites and sensitive resource areas may be protected through rerouting, reconstruction, new construction, limitations on vehicle type and time or season of travel, or closure. If the BLM determines that a designation has the potential to adversely affect a known historic property, it will consult with the SHPO, Indian tribes, and other interested parties on measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate the adverse effect according to the BLM PA and applicable State protocol or 36 CFR Part 800 regulations.
Consultation: Consultation with the SHPO, Indian tribes that may attach cultural and religious significance to historic properties potentially affected by the undertaking, and with other potential consulting parties (e.g. historic trail organizations) is required for all planning efforts. The SHPO should be consulted prior to initiating the development of a LUP (or travel management plan) and invited to participate in the development of identification, monitoring, and mitigation options during the planning and implementation of this effort. The planning team, led by the appropriate manager, should consult with potentially affected Indian tribes to: solicit concerns relative to planning options; ensure that appropriate identification, monitoring, and treatment options are developed and implemented during or after the planning effort; and to meet the BLM’s government-to-government consultation responsibilities under Section 106 of the NHPA. Consistent with the individual State/BLM protocols under the BLM PA and policy, additional consultation and documentation with the SHPO, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and consulting parties may be required for specific area and route designation decisions and project implementation to meet the BLM’s responsibilities under Section 106 of the NHPA. 
Monitoring:   Areas and routes open to OHV use are monitored for impacts to resources. A cultural resource specialist should be included on the team responsible for developing and implementing the monitoring standards and process. The monitoring standards and process should take into consideration the intensity and type of OHV use; the density and sensitivity of cultural resources in the area; and the potential for adverse indirect and cumulative impacts, including route proliferation. When monitoring is proposed to assess potential effects from route or area designation, the decision record should identify what mitigation actions should be taken, and when they should be applied, in order to minimize additional environmental analysis required prior to implementation.    
Route improvement, maintenance, or rehabilitation projects:   Specific projects undertaken to improve, or rehabilitate, routes or areas are undertakings subject to Section 106 review and may require Class III inventory and the SHPO and tribal consultation, consistent with the BLM PA and applicable State/BLM protocols. They may also require Class III inventory of previously un-inventoried areas with the potential for cultural resources. 
Temporary Closures: All OHV use is subject to prohibitions against operation of vehicles on public lands in a reckless, careless, or negligent manner; and in excess of established speeds or in a manner causing or likely to cause undue damage to cultural and other resources. Where an authorized officer determines that OHVs are causing or likely to cause considerable adverse effects to cultural resources, 43 CFR 8341.2 and 8364.1 provide authority for temporary closures to the type or types of vehicles causing considerable adverse effects until the adverse effects are eliminated and measures implemented to prevent recurrence. Cultural resource inventory is not required prior to the emergency closure.
Plan Maintenance and Modification:  A cultural resource specialist should be included on any team working on periodic plan maintenance or on a plan amendment. Cultural resource monitoring and inventory information, gathered after a plan is approved, maintained, or amended, should be used to review and update the travel management network, as necessary, in any plan maintenance or plan amendment process. 
Supplementary Information: The following information is helpful to understanding this policy.
A. OHV Authorities and Policy: The potential effect of increasingly numerous and popular recreational vehicles on public lands was addressed in Executive Order (E.O.) 11644, (as
amended by E.O. 11989), Use of Off-Road Vehicles on Public Lands in 1972. Toprotect resources, promote safety of users and minimize land use conflicts, E.O. 11644 established a Federal policy of designating all public lands as either available or not available for off-road vehicle (ORV) use and required every agency to develop a process for directing and controlling the ORV use. Manual Section 1626, Travel and Transportation, provides additional guidance on the travel management planning process. The terms OHV and ORV are synonymous and refer to any motorized vehicle capable of travel on or over land, water, or other natural terrain, excluding motorboats, military, emergency, law enforcement or other official vehicles.
B. Recreation Management Information System (RMIS): The RMIS is the BLM’s official record keeping system for tracking OHV area designation status. Every Field Office’s OHV designation status can be determined by accessing the current RMIS data base. The RMIS Standard Report #11 will provide a listing of public land areas designated open, limited, closed or undesignated. Each Field Office is responsible for keeping their OHV designation data current in RMIS.      
Timeframe: This IM becomes effective upon the date of issuance.
Budget Impact:  None. This IM does not establish new policy. 

Background:   Section 106 of the NHPA requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on properties that are listed in, or may be eligible for listing in, the National Register of Historic Places (historic properties) before approving funds for, or authorizing, the undertaking. Undertakings are projects, activities, and programs funded in whole or in part under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a Federal agency, including those carried out by or on behalf of an agency, those carried out with Federal financial assistance, and those requiring a Federal permit, license, or other form of approval. 

Directives Affected: This IM replaces IM 2007-030. 

Coordination: This IM was coordinated with the Recreation and Planning Divisions and the BLM Preservation Board.

Contact: Robin Hawks, Ph.D., Preservation Officer, Bureau of Land Management, at (202) 912-7241, or e-mail rhawks@blm.gov.

Signed by:                                                                 Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                     Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                      Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning

[1] The national Programmatic Agreement (PA) executed by the BLM, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (Council), and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers on March 26, 1997, legally replaces 36 CFR Part 800, the Council’s government-wide regulations, as the procedural basis for BLM managers to meet their responsibilities under Sections 106, 110(f), and 111(a) of the National Historic Preservation Act. A copy of the PA can be found in BLM Manual 8110, Appendix 13.
[2] Defined in BLM Manual 8110.21B

Last updated: 02-17-2012