IDAHO-BRC Update On Bureau Of Reclamation Closures At American Falls Dam

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March 19, 2012 5:50 PM

BRC Update On Bureau Of Reclamation Closures At Idaho's American Falls Dam - We wanted to let everyone know of an important meeting today at 2:00 pm in American Falls concerning the closure of Bureau of Reclamation lands downstream from the American Falls Dam. The meeting will be held at the Power County Court House at 543 Bannock Ave, American Falls, Idaho. I know... I know... We're a bit late on the notice. Please forgive. While many BRC members may not be able to attend, they may be very interested in this turn of events. I asked Brian Hawthorne, BRC's public lands guy, to whip up a quick blurb describing the situation

BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT

BRC UPDATE ON BUREAU OF RECLAMATION CLOSURES AT IDAHO'S AMERICAN FALLS DAM

Dear SE Idaho BRC members,
We wanted to let everyone know of an important meeting today at 2:00 pm in American Falls concerning the closure of Bureau of Reclamation lands downstream from the American Falls Dam. The meeting will be held at the Power County Court House at 543 Bannock Ave, American Falls, Idaho.

I know... I know... We're a bit late on the notice. Please forgive.

While many BRC members may not be able to attend, they may be very interested in this turn of events. I asked Brian Hawthorne, BRC's public lands guy, to whip up a quick blurb describing the situation and why a group of mostly OHV and snowmobilers would be interested in a non-motorized closure. Also, below is a story about the issue printed March 9 in the Idaho State Journal.

Thanks,
Ric Foster
Public Lands Department Manager
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 107

BRC UPDATE ON BUREAU OF RECLAMATION CLOSURES AT IDAHO'S AMERICAN FALLS DAM

Area off limits - Idaho State Journal - March 9, 2012 

Ric,
Here is a quick update for our members who are calling about the Bureau of Reclamation closure of lands downstream of the American Falls dam.

It is true that the Bureau of Reclamation has issued a closure of all of their lands south of the American Falls dam in Power County, Idaho. The closure applies to all human access, even hiking, fishing, camping and boat launching. The official closure notice is HERE.

I know a lot of BRC members enjoy this area for all kinds of recreation, including mountain biking, climbing and fishing. Please let them know that we are looking into what can be done.

For those who are thinking that a lawsuit may be the answer, you'll need to give them the bad news. For a variety of reasons, a lawsuit challenging the closure has a very small chance of success.

Our "action item" is to have them contact their County Commissioners and Idaho Congressional delegation.   

For those members who might ask what the heck we're doing working on a non-motorized closure, please let them know that it is a darned good question, and we are not forgetting "who took us to the dance," so to speak.

This closure is of concern to BRC for two reasons. One is that a small but growing number of BRC members are non-motorized recreationists and many enjoy this area. But also because it represents the way the federal land managers have been treating the American Public. This closure, because of the reasons below, represents a "line in the sand" opportunity to draw attention to what has been occurring across public lands for a long time.

The Bureau of Reclamation closed this land without any notice to local governments, the State of Idaho and even other federal land managing agencies. Virtually no opportunity for any public input was given. Worse, in the closure announcement, they arrogantly assumed the closures would be enforced by local law enforcement officers.

This kind of arrogance, sadly, has been a trend for some time. Two recent Congressional hearings, one in California and the other in Nevada, focused on the way federal land mangers are running roughshod over local residents. 

Nevada Representative Mark Amodei said it best:
The federal government's cooperation with local, state, and tribal governments concerning these important issues has quickly deteriorated. In the West, as exemplified in my home state of Nevada, access to our public lands is critical to job creation and our economic viability. I hope our concerns regarding Nevada water law and federal collaboration in travel management don't fall on deaf ears so that we can once again manage the lands for the benefit of all,"

Indeed.

  • BRC is working on a challenge of the Clearwater National Forest Travel Plan, where the US Forest Service is attempting to implement an unlawful "de-facto" wilderness management of vast areas, closing them to OHV use, snowmobilers and mountain bikes.
  • Top-down, inflexible mandates to address the Greater Sage Grouse expose the inherent flaws in the Endangered Species Act www.sharetrails.org/public-lands/10-state-sage-grouse-planning
  • Despite a Congressional ban, the Bureau of Land Management is carrying on a never ending Wilderness inventory and study. Each year, more BLM finds more and more lands that qualify as having "wilderness characteristics" and are closed not only to motorized uses, but also non-motorized uses such as mountain bike recreation.

The American Falls closure is the latest, and in some ways one of the most blatant and, I'll say it again, arrogant public land closure. Perhaps it can be used to educate the American public about what is happening across the West.

 


The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib - www.sharetrails.org
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