Riders feel ‘ignored’ by BLM plan

Photos by GRETEL DAUGHERTY/The Daily Sentinel Beth Andrews of Grand Junction and her 10-year-old daughter, Ashlyn, stand with a group of people unhappy with a proposed travel management plan during a rally Friday at the Bureau of Land Management’s field office, 2815 H Road.

Dirt bikers, all-terrain vehicle riders and others are being overlooked in the revamp of the travel-management plan for western Colorado federal lands, a critic of the plan told a revved-up crowd of about 100 people Friday.

It might be appropriate for the Grand Junction Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management to start the entire revamp of its management plan anew, Brandon Siegfried told about 100 people, many waving American and tea-party-associated Gadsden flags, gathered in front of the office at 2815 H Road.

“We’re getting ignored, disrespected and shot down on our own public lands,” Siegfried said from atop a flatbed trailer that served as a temporary dais.

The BLM cordoned off its parking lot to accommodate the two-hour rally.

The office is seeking comments on its draft resource-management plan for the 1.2 million acres it manages, mostly in Mesa County. The plan is to guide the agency over the next two decades.

The office is accepting comment on all parts of the plan through June 24 and Grand Junction Field Office Manager Katie Stevens urged commenters to offer specific suggestions with details, such as how frequently and when a trail is used.

In a rally with strong overtones of a protest, participants said the BLM was overreaching, especially on the travel-management portion of the plan.

“It’s more like a peaceful rally for our rights,” Jeff McCloskey said. “We want local input on our lands.”

Shallini Sheeran of Grand Junction said the plan’s alternatives, including the preferred alternative, pay scant attention to the economic value of the lands north of Grand Junction.

“A lot of people from out of town use that land out there,” Sheeran said, gesturing toward the Bookcliffs and the expanse below them stretching west to Utah.

Sheeran is a regular user of the BLM-managed lands for family getaways and vacations, including her son and his fellow soldiers home from tours of duty in Afghanistan and elsewhere, she said.

Janet Drummond, who carried a sign declaring “BLM creates sign pollution in nature,” said the Rabbit Valley area is too heavily marked, especially with signs denoting closed areas.

“They’re all over the place,” said Drummond, who noted that she moved to Grand Junction 11 years ago because of the accessibility of the public lands.

“I love wilderness” and the ability to reach those lands via her ATV, Drummond said.

Brad Hoy, president of the BMW Motorcycle Club, said his English mastiff, Kimber, is a regular user of the desert lands north of the Grand Valley.

“She likes to ride in a Jeep,” Hoy said.

Areas set aside for off-highway vehicle use would be reduced from 12,500 to 5,400 acres, Siegfried said, noting that the last time the plan was written, 1987, planners identified a need for more OHV lands.

“We need more OHV areas, not less,” Siegfried said.

Discrepancies about the number of roads that would be closed and other problems led him to suggest that the plan might need to be revamped, Siegfried said.

BLM planners will take into account a range of opinions, Stevens said.

“Multiple-use is very complex,” Stevens said. “It need not be one-size-fits-all.”

For additional information, including how to provide comments or to view a copy of the draft RMP, including the draft travel management plan, visit http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo/rmp/rmp.html.


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