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BLM Clarifies OHV Designations and Travel Management

The goal is more complete and accurate data on which to base route designations.

From the Bureau of Land Management

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The BLM's Washington Office released WO Instruction Memorandum No. 2004-005, Clarification of OHV Designations and Travel Management in the BLM Land Use Planning Process, on Oct. 6, 2003. This instruction memorandum is not new BLM policy; it provides clarification and additional guidance for travel management decisions made during the land use planning process.

The intent is to allow more time for field personnel to designate roads and trails Field personnel will have the time to solve complex issues, collect additional data, deal with conflicts in planning schedules or budget shortfalls, and have additional involvement from the public.

"This clarification of guidance will result in better management of our nation's public lands and natural resources, and allow additional public involvement in the route designation process."

This travel management clarification is intended to increase the amount of time field personnel can take to designate roads and trails in limited areas when they cannot be designated before completion of the RMP. Field personnel will have the time to solve complex issues, collect additional data, deal with conflicts in planning schedules or budget shortfalls, and have additional involvement from the public. This additional time will result in a more complete picture and more accurate data on which to base route designations.

This clarification of guidance will result in better management of our nation's public lands and natural resources, and allow additional public involvement in the route designation process.

Program Area: Recreation and Land Use Planning.

Purpose: Emphasize policy; provide clarification and additional guidance for travel management decisions for the land use planning process.

Background: The BLM defines appropriate access to the public lands through the land use planning process. The process includes the preparation of Resource Management Plans (RMPs), which usually cover large areas, and subsequent activity plans, which are more site-specific documents. The planning process is flexible and allows for revision, amendment or maintenance as appropriate. The BLM released the current version of the Land Use Planning Handbook (H-1601-1) in November 2000. Guidance for Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) designations in the land use planning process was incorporated in the Recreation Section (Appendix C, Section II. C.).

As field offices implemented the guidance for RMP development, revision or amendment, they identified a need to 1) clarify how to implement the guidance in the recreation section, and 2) introduce refinements to the existing process. The Policy/Action section in this memorandum summarizes the most important elements of policy in the H-1601-1. Attachment 2 clarifies handbook policy, provides guidance on how to implement the policy and introduces the planning process refinements.

Attachment 3 summarizes current policy and process refinements in a matrix format.

Policy/Action: The BLM will manage motorized and other access on the public lands in accordance with existing law, executive orders, proclamation, regulation, and policy.

Within this context:

  • Road and trail access (and OHV management) guidance will be incorporated into every RMP to ensure public and resource needs are met. At a minimum, each RMP will divide planning areas into OHV area designations that are open, limited or closed. The RMP will include a map of area designations.
  • Specific criteria for open, limited and closed designations are provided in definitions outlined in 43 CFR 8340.0-5 (f), (g) and (h). Additional criteria are provided by existing law, proclamation, executive order, regulation or policy.
  • Selection of a network of roads and trails should be performed for all limited areas in each RMP. This requires establishment of a process that includes selecting specific roads and trails within the limited area or sub-area and specifying limitation(s) placed on use. The RMP will include a map of the roads and trails open and available in each area.
  • If complexity, controversy, or incomplete data make it impossible to complete the selection of a road and trail network for any area designated as limited within reasonable timeframes or budget availability, the BLM will perform the selection process for all limited areas that can be completed.

For any limited area or sub-area that cannot be completed in the RMP, the BLM will, to the extent possible:

  • incorporate a map of a preliminary road and trail network, including known roads or trails that are expected to be included in the final network;
  • define short-term management guidance for road and trail access and activities, including interim management guidelines for proper identification of the preliminary road and trail network, including signing and maintenance of open roads and trails;
  • outline additional data needs and a strategy to collect needed information;
  • establish a clear planning sequence, including public collaboration, criteria and constraints for subsequent road and trail selection and identification;
  • produce a schedule to complete the limited area or sub-area road and trail selection process. Normally, this process should not exceed five years; and
  • Install signs, and in some cases, construct barriers or perform restoration on closed roads and trails.

Time Frame: These clarifications are in effect immediately. Budget Impact: There is no significant budget impact. Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: Implementation of guidance provided in BLM Land Use Planning Handbook (H-1601-1 Appendix C, Section II.C.1., Release 1-1667, 11/22/00).

Coordination: The BLM Washington Office Recreation and Planning Groups prepared this guidance, with extensive consultation from State Recreation, OHV and Planning Leads, the National Travel and Trails Team, and the Washington Office National Landscape Conservation System staff.

Contact: Contact Hal Hallett, Acting National OHV Coordinator, (202) 452-7794; or Scott Florence, Senior Planner, (202) 452-5151.

November 2003

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Updated October 27, 2006

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