I'd like to update you on where the Yuma BLM is with the La Posa TMP in Quartzsite. You may recall that we had anticipated completing the plan during the Spring of 2014. We were hoping that after 10 years of on-again off-again effort we'd finally have a product so we could begin implementing the plan and calling on you to help us.
However, I've received comments from the public over the last couple of months that BLM is going to close all the roads in Quartzsite which would have a negative impact on the economy as well as denying mine claimants access to their claims. This just isn't so but it suggests to me that BLM needs to do more outreach to better explain how we came up with the plan and what we see as the benefits.
With that in mind, the plan will not be signed until we've done more outreach during the winter of 2014/15. I'd like to use this opportunity to invite myself to your winter meeting in Quartzsite. I've really appreciated the courtesy you've extended to me in my previous meetings with you and I regret I wasn't able to make the last meeting.
So, what's the BLM been doing?
Well, first off, reviewing the public comments and making changes to the maps took longer than we thought. Every specific comment or suggestion was discussed by our in-house team and myself. As a result of your input, we ended up proposing to designate more open trails.
Now there are routes that have not been recommended to be open due to possible conflicts with other resources, mainly wildlife and archaeology and in some cases soil erosion.
Let me clarify my terminology. A route is not necessarily a trail or a road. During the initial inventory, any linear disturbance wide enough for a vehicle, whether it was being driven on or not was identified as a route. This included residual scars on the landscape leftover from when the Army trained in this area during World War II, as well as pipelines or roads to abandoned mines. All routes were identified with a number and there were hundreds of them. So in our evaluation we usually put these self-reclaiming and revegetated route segments in the closed category.
In general, if a route was obviously being heavily used and not causing undo surface damage to wildlife habitat or cultural sites, we usually left it open. However, when there are multiple routes/trails/roads leading to the same destination or running parallel we have proposed some of them to be closed. Our goal has been to allow access to everywhere within the plan area without damage to other resources.
Finally, I wanted to thank those that participated and supported the clean-up you did on BLM managed lands last January. We appreciate and rely on supportive groups like yours in helping BLM manage your public lands. I look forward to seeing you next January if not sooner.
Please call or stop by the office if you have any questions.