BLM to close some off-road routes
Sports shooters will still be able to use Bureau of Land Management lands in Arizona for recreational target shooting, but 204 miles of off-highway vehicle routes will be closed to off-roaders.
Both decisions were made as part of BLM's recently Approved Resource Management Plans for the Lower Sonoran Field Office and the Sonoran Desert National Monument. The plans set in place a framework for the management of 1.4 million acres of public lands in south central Arizona in portions of Gila, Maricopa, Pima, Pinal and Yuma counties.
Before the new plans, off-roaders had access to about 615 miles of OHV routes. Now only 411 miles are designated to remain open while 204 miles are to be closed, decommissioned and rehabilitated to protect historic locations and other natural resources.
Travel in the Lower Sonoran area will be restricted to existing routes until further travel management planning is completed and specific routes are designated.
The plans also ensure 830,000 acres of the Lower Sonoran area and 157,210 acres of the Sonoran Desert National Monument will remain available for livestock grazing.
In addition, the plans manage hunting, maintenance of wildlife habitat, and the siting of utility-scale renewable energy stations and utility corridors.
The plan for the Sonoran Desert National Monument Decision Area is required by Presidential Proclamation 7397, which designated the monument.
Records of Decision (RODs) detailing the plan are available online at www.blm.gov/az.
A draft of the plans and an environmental impact statement were made available to the public in August 2011. At that time, the public was given a 90-day period to comment on the plan.
A finalized proposal of the plans was then released to the public in June, 2012, at which time citizens were given 30 days to protest. Nine protests were received, all of which were “carefully considered, though ultimately denied or dismissed, clearing the way for the Approved Resource Management Plans,” BLM stated.
“The BLM appreciates the engagement of the public on these important issues throughout the development of the plans, including the 10,000 letters and emails received and the public's participation in meetings.”
For more information or to request the plans on compact disc, call BLM at 1-623-580-5500 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday, or send an email to email@example.com.