On November 18 the Sun Advocate published an article about the current Price resource management plan revision. While we appreciate the piece, we felt that we had a responsibility to respond to it with some other concepts concerning the Bureau of Land Managements draft resource management plan (DRMP).
There is no doubt that the Price BLM Field Office manages many impressive areas, including Nine Mile and Desolation Canyons, the Book Cliffs, and a large portion of the San Rafael Swell. Given that the Price Field Office's new DRMP will guide all BLM decisions on these lands for the next 15-20 years. It is imperative that the document is forward-thinking, and addresses not only today's concerns, but that it also tries to anticipate future conflicts as well.
We agree with the motorized community's statement that the DRMP was inadequate. This document is very long and confusing, which makes it nearly impossible to figure out what the BLM is proposing.
The draft resource management plan fails to include adequate maps of the travel plan, and omits all of the routes that the BLM has already designated in the San Rafael Swell area. After we reviewed the document, we realized that BLM failed to offer the public an adequate range of alternatives to meet everyone's needs.
For this reason, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, along with many other groups around the state, chose to endorse the Castle Country Heritage Proposal (CCHP). The CCHP is a comprehensive management proposal that balances many uses for BLM lands in the Price district. The proposal leaves open over 2500 miles of motorized routes that access popular destinations.
Under the proposal, riparian areas, wildlife habitat, and roadless areas, will remain nonmotorized, an approach even off-road vehicle (ORV) interest groups can support. The CCHP travel plan includes a broad spectrum of recreational opportunities for various types of motorized vehicles and nonmotorized recreation users, like hunters, horseback riders, mountain bikers, hikers, wildlife viewers, family campers, and sightseers.
If the BLM adopts the CCHP, approximately 65 percent of BLM lands would be within 1 mile of a motorized route. Furthermore, the CCHP supports energy development, especially in places with the highest potential for energy production, while protecting a few low-potential areas from such development.
The CCHP is a forward looking plan; it provides motorized access opportunities and energy development while seeking management for other areas that will provide for continued wildlife habitat, cultural resource protection, scenic vistas, healthy ecosystems, and quiet places that offer opportunities to escape the hustle-bustle of everyday life.
The CCHP strives to protect the quality of life, as well as the outstanding lands, of this area for future generations to enjoy.
Ray Bloxham is the Resource Management Planning Coordinator for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.