The BLM has restarted its travel planning process for the Wood River Valley.
The BLM began this round of travel planning in 2005, but for various reasons the effort was put on hold in 2010. A few years ago, the BLM Shoshone Field Office began working on the travel planning effort again, and they unveiled the plan, as it stands now, to the public at an open house meeting last week. If you missed the meeting you have a lot of other options for learning about the planning effort and how to get involved.
The BLM puts a high priority on travel planning, and before any new trails can be considered for construction this process needed to move forward. I won’t go into much detail about the process in this blog post, as there are already excellent resources available to anyone interested in learning about what is taking shape. If you would like a summary of what this process is all about I would suggest reading Mark Dee’s article about it in the Aug. 2, 2017 edition of the Idaho Mountain Express. He has done a great job of giving readers the most pertinent history behind the planning, and why public involvement in the process is key to its success. Here is a link to the article:
In a nutshell, the BLM has developed four options regarding which roads and trails will be open to use in the future, and they are asking for public comment.
Option A leaves the road and trail network as it is.
Option B has an emphasis on the development of recreation access.
Option C has an emphasis on conservation of natural resources.
Option D is a blend of options B & C.
These options are not set in stone, and the BLM has made it clear that the final option that is chosen will be a blending of these. Everything is up for discussion, so the BLM needs the public’s input. They want to hear about the routes people use and whats important to them. Some people may want to see more trails developed in the south valley, others may want to see greater protections established for wildlife or have other concerns and desires. Whatever people have to say about the options will help the BLM make sure they’re hitting all the bases.
BLM Recreation Planner John Kurtz has been instrumental in the travel planning process from its start back in 2005. He and an interdisciplinary team of BLM specialists, and consultants from Arizona State University, ran a series of community workshops in 2007. Those provided Kurtz and the BLM with a wealth of useful data. Meetings with the public through the workshops, and through follow-up meetings with the workshop participants and other members of the community, helped the BLM identify how people are using our area roads and trails for recreation, and what values and interests are important to us. Much more work has been done since this initial research to study and document the landscape and how its used now, and how it might be further developed, or not developed, to help meet the needs of the public, wildlife, and the people who must manage and protect it.
The Shoshone Field Office Manager will decide, through this travel planning process, which routes will be designated as open to all modes of travel, limited to designated modes of travel (i.e., full size 4WD, ATV, horse, mountain bike, etc.), or closed, and whether new trail corridors and trailheads will be approved for construction.
Much information is available to the public about the various options before us, and the BLM is interested in your comments concerning the options as well as relevant environmental and social issues associated with the effort. Comments are welcome throughout the planning process; however, it is most helpful if your comments are received by September 29, 2017.
Hard copies of the scoping package and maps are available for viewing at the Shoshone Field Office, 400 West F Street, Shoshone, ID.
For online viewing, here is a link to the “Documents” page of the BLM’s ePlanning website:
Using the above link will take you to a BLM website page where you can open a Scoping Information Package that includes background info and describes the needs and purpose of the travel planning process, info about how you can participate, instructions for commenting on the plan, individual route reports, and a public comment sheet. Within these documents you will find some tables that help illustrate preliminary route network options. These tables might be useful to you in getting an overview of what roads and trails might be closed under the various options, and they help describe what trail and trailhead development options are included. The table “Trail Construction” describes new trails that would be constructed. Here is a link to the above mentioned tables:
For online viewing of the maps (.pdf files) associated with the various options go to this page of the BLM’s ePlanning website:
For maps as .kmz files (useful for viewing in Google Earth) go to this section of the BLM ePlanning website:
You may submit comments related to the Travel Management Plan through any of the following methods:
- BLM ePlanning website
- mail: BLM Shoshone Field Office, 400 West F Street, Shoshone, ID 83352
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- fax: (208) 732-7317
Before including your address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you may ask the BLM to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that they will be able to do so.
The primary contact for questions and comments for this analysis is John Kurtz, BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner, (208) 732-7200.