Recreation in Southwestern Idaho is going to be impacted by another travel management proposal called the Canyonlands West project area. Comments will be accepted until October 23, 2023. This area is 756,000 acres that holds popular areas such as, Juniper Mountain, Halogeton Flat on the western edge of the TMA, the Owyhee River, Battle Creek and Mud Flat Road. BLM recently conducted travel management for the Canyonlands East area. There is also legislation to designate more Wilderness in this area on the Oregon side of the border. If you enjoy recreating in the Owyhees, you need to be tracking and participating in these processes. By joining BlueRibbon Coalition, we will keep you informed on all developments in this area.
Alternative A is the alternative best for multiple use, local communities and continued access. All alternatives given to the current management will close a portion of motorized routes. The BLM is claiming, “there are sufficient alternate OHV trails in neighboring TMAs within Owyhee County.” The BLM is using neighboring trails as justification to close routes within the Owyhee West Travel Management area. This is a popular area that has seen an influx of use. This contradicts the BLM’s position, which states, “As motorized use in the planning area is currently low and dispersed and is not anticipated to increase significantly due to the remote nature of the area,”
The area already contains substantial acreage of desisgnated wilderness, so the impacts from the multiple-use areas are already minimized by the portions of this area that are restricted wilderness.
The first map is the current routes, Alternative B, C and then D. Clearly Alternative B restricts the most routes to users.
The Bureau of Land Management insists that use in the area is sparse to moderate. Even so, this is not reason alone to justify the closures of motorized routes or re-designations from motorized to non-motorized. This is also why if you use this area or have plans to use this area, we need your voice to be part of this process.
The BLM recognizes that ebikes have very few studies, which document their impact. The best available science regarding their use shows that, “Soil displacement measured in this study was not significantly different (statistically) from that associated with mountain bikes.” However, the states that because of this information, ebikes will not be allowed on non-motorized routes which is not consistent with the best available science.
We encourage everyone to tell the BLM to support a plan that allows for abundant recreation for all users in this area.