Two ways to portray proposed road closures

QUICKREAD

RIGHTS OF WAY



Just how much the Bureau of Land Management has proposed to shrink the number of miles of roads to be kept open under the jurisdiction of its Grand Junction Field Office depends on how you want to look at it.

Public access advocate Brandon Siegfried says it’s about a two-thirds reduction.

But the BLM specifically takes issue with that calculation, saying it’s actually less than 25 percent.

What gives?

A big distinction between Siegfried’s math and the BLM’s involves routes that would be designated only for administrative/permitted uses under the agency’s preferred draft plan. Those are roads that would be available strictly for uses such as BLM and law enforcement access, and for permitted access by entities such as ranchers and oil and gas companies.

The BLM says the field office currently has 3,283 miles of designated routes where travel is allowed. That includes 112 miles of administrative/permitted-use routes. Its preferred draft alternative proposes a total of about 2,500 miles of routes designated for travel, but 980 of those miles would be only for administrative/permitted use.

“They’re converting a ton of routes to what are going to be called administrative routes,” he said.

“They lumped those (administrative routes) in with routes that are going to be open to the public, which they absolutely are not.”

Another 935 miles would be open to all travel. An additional 115 would be designated for all-terrain-vehicle, motorcycle, mechanized and nonmotorized uses, and 61 would be designated for motorcycle, mechanized and nonmotorized uses. Further small-mileage designations are made for uses such as horse travel.

Grand Junction field manager Katie Stevens said that while Siegfried views administrative routes as closed to public use, the agency considers them still open for certain public uses, involving business or other permitted purposes. They’re just not available to the general public.

“It depends if you think that folks doing business, having (permitted) access is an important point or not. Brandon is concerned about general access for the general public, so it is higher than a quarter (of miles closed) for what he’s concerned about — recreation.”

But she said the BLM also is considering the importance of access for certain types of business access.

“That’s important to (Mesa County) too,” she said.

Siegfried said administrative routes are “closed to 99 percent of the population. That’s just a fact,” he said.

The BLM plans to issue its final management plan later this year, taking into account comments submitted on its draft proposal.

View maps of all the travel management plan alternatives at bit.ly/blmmaps.


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