Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Motorized users eye alternative plan

BLM travel plan flawed, surveyor says


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Professional land surveyor Bruce Smith said he doesn't object to the BLM's proposed travel management plan—he just thinks his plan is better.

"Instead of opposition, we're giving them a proposition," Smith said.

The proposition is a series of maps created by Smith and his staff at Alpine Enterprises, a surveying company. Smith is an active motorcycle rider, as are many of his employees, and they've been taking to the trails to figure out the impacts that the BLM's proposed closures would have on trail riders.

The BLM plan would close 115 miles of existing trails and roads for rehabilitation and limit off-highway vehicle use to designated routes only.

The proposal would close the Little Wood River and Friedman Creek wilderness study areas, and the region from Elkhorn to East Fork to all off-highway vehicles. In addition, many of the trails stemming from Ohio Gulch and the Croy Creek trailhead would be closed for rehabilitation.

One of the main problems, Smith said, is that these closures would cut off users from some Forest Service trails and eliminate heavily used connector trails, such as those around Driveway Gulch. The BLM maps also show several trails marked for closure that appear to start and end in the middle of nowhere, Smith said, when actually the trails connect to others on private or Forest Service land.

"That's our job, closing in all those gaps," he said. "There's a lot of stuff [the BLM maps] don't show you. People just see these little red squiggles for closures. The first thing we set out to do is make a map you can understand."

Smith and his crew have created a map using aerial photographs, topographic markings and GPS tracks tracing the trails in the area, rather than just the trails marked on the BLM maps. This includes trails on private lands, Smith said, that connect to BLM trails slated for closure.

<

"So many of their closures will close miles and miles of trail because it goes 100 feet through someone's property," Smith said.

John Kurtz, outdoor recreation manager for the BLM's Shoshone field office, said last month that agency trails need to avoid private land to prevent future conflict if property owners decide to close off the trail from public use.

"It's really challenging to design a trail," he said at a public meeting in August, adding that many objectors don't want to see their favorite trails closed, but the agency has to consider criteria that the public often overlooks.

Smith said he was working closely with the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a group that lobbies for motorized access statewide, and other organizations such as the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. He also said he was "trying to cooperate" with the BLM.

"On a lot of this stuff, we'll go with their recommendations," he said.

For example, the restriction against cross-country off-highway vehicle use will be in place in Smith's proposal, and Smith does not plan to suggest any changes to seasonal use restrictions for snowmobilers.

Smith must submit a plan to the BLM before the public comment period ends Oct. 14. Though he said he "underestimated" the amount of work involved in the proposal, he plans to pull something together in time.

"They only gave us six weeks," he said, as opposed to the six years the BLM has taken to develop their own plan. "That's not fair, but we can do it."

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2019 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.