While everyone was focused on the terrible closures in Moab, the Bruneau Field Office of the BLM in Idaho released their final plan for the Canyonlands East area near the Owyhees. This area includes the eastern reaches of the Owyhee Canyonlands south of Boise.
In a major victory for all the outdoor recreation users in the area, the BLM chose the pro-access alternative. The worst alternative in this case – like the one they chose in Moab – would have only left 458 miles (70 of these miles are the main paved highway) out of 1493 miles open for recreation use.
A map of the “closure” alternative rejected by the Bureau of Land Management
In July we asked our members to submit comments on the Canyonlands East TMP, not to be confused with the Canyonlands West TMP that we asked for comments on last week. Over 400 of our members and supporters submitted comments as well as local clubs we had been working with.
BRC, the Boise Idaho Jeep Club, Wild West Offroaders, and Idaho Off-Road 4×4 Club coordinated during the planning process and advocated for a modified version of the pro-access alternative. With the on-the-ground knowledge of these local clubs, we were able to identify numerous routes that BLM was proposing to close that were used and loved by the outdoor recreation users in the area. The BLM acknowledged that the feedback from off-roaders and recreation users informed their decision to open even more routes than originally planned in the pro-access alternative. As a result, they chose to keep 1306 miles of the 1493 open for public use.
A map of the access alternative selected by the BLM
This shows that when we make public comments on these plans and the BLM chooses to respond to them in a reasonable way, these plans can focus on keeping our public lands open for the public. This is why we put a lot of time and effort into preparing action alerts to educate everyone about these plans.
As with all of these plans, we will be looking at the exact details to make sure they didn’t close anything that would hurt recreation users. But at a first glance, we are encouraged that the Bureau of Land Management is working to protect public recreation access to the Owyhees.