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In My View
May 3, 2005
By Robert Towne, Prineville
BLM PROCESS DEALT WITH EXPLODING PUBLIC USE
Before I add my thoughts to the Badlands discussion, I'd like to acknowledge the contribution of the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners. Thank you to Mike Daly, Dennis Luke and Tom DeWolf for engaging in what Commissioner Daly called "the most controversial subject ... during his four-year tenure." I think it is also appropriate to thank the community for a respectful and serious conversation about public lands. In my opinion, an honest dialogue by thousands of citizens concerning public land management is a good thing and will, in time, define a reasonable future.
It's been a few weeks since the commissioners decided to take no position on the designation of Badlands as wilderness. In the aftermath of the decision, different interests have assessed the impact. Disappointment was the predominant sense expressed by wilderness advocates. Those opposed to wilderness will likely see corroboration in the vote. I'd like to offer another assessment.
What began as a discussion of the status of a relatively small parcel of public land (32,000 acres) is really, in my view, a much broader question regarding the scale and applicability of multiple use on public land. Multiple use and sustainability are keystone principles for public land managers. We are responsible for managing public land for all citizens. Our mission is to provide for a variety of uses while maintaining healthy and functioning ecosystems. Does this mean accommodating every use, everywhere? Is the decision we hoped for from the commissioners really about freedom of access?
When it comes to decisions about access to public lands, the choices should be made by an informed majority or better yet, by community consensus.
We've begun this conversation with the Badlands. Citizens and community leaders are seeking information, assessing alternatives, and publicly expressing their views. What makes the discussion difficult is that it focuses values and perceptions on a specific area, or, most recently, on a single road. Lacking the broader context, there can be the perception of infringement of personal freedom. When the debate becomes personal, opportunities for consensus are often lost.
Fifteen years ago, public demand for BLM-managed lands was limited; the hiker, rancher, motorcycle enthusiast and others could find space and separation. As interest and demand increases - in the case of Central Oregon, explodes - accommodation can turn to conflict.
In 2000, we started the Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan (UDRMP) to assess and chart a new future for public land in Deschutes and Crook counties. The UDRMP, much like the County's comprehensive plan, is a big picture overview of how 400,000 acres of public land will be managed over the next 10 to 15 years.
What made this process unique is that we asked you, interested and concerned citizens, to design the desired future condition. Over 5,400 hours were contributed by citizens to craft the vision for Central Oregon's public lands. Most decisions were reached by consensus. Our planning process embraces the principles of multiple use and public access. However, one constant throughout our collaborative process was that multiple use, especially in an area of rapid population growth, needs to be applied broadly and provide for a variety of settings and experiences.
In the UDRMP, we have attempted to provide a
variety of experiences across the planning area. These include areas with
designated off-highway vehicle trails, areas that rely only on designated roads
for motorized-vehicle access, areas solely for designation of nonmotorized
trails, and areas for interpretation of historic resources. The Badlands is one
piece of the overall balance of use and access, representing 8 percent of the
planning area. While the Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan, proposes to
close the Badlands to motorized vehicles, it also proposes to re-open the North
Millican off-highway vehicle trail system during the winter and to create
additional designated trail systems for motorized trail use in other areas.
One clear expression from those involved in defining use in the planning area is that public lands provide opportunities for quieter pursuits. What better place for hiking and quiet than in an area determined to have values suitable for wilderness designation and that currently has very limited motorized vehicle opportunities?
The UDRMP represents a community-based progression to a more manageable, sustainable and, hopeful higher quality and more enjoyable recreational opportunities on public land. While separating uses by area is one tool being proposed, the challenges ahead include creating and defining road and trail systems, and working together to recognize, accept and accommodate diverse uses and interests on your public lands.
I would like to close this letter by expressing,
on behalf of the Prineville District of the BLM, my sincere appreciation to all
of you for elevating the discourse and your willingness to be part of the
--Robert Towne is field manager for the Prineville BLM.
Read more . . .
Map of huge exclusive OHV areas adjoining the
The Badlands Wilderness
Map, compass and GPS navigation training Noodle in The Badlands
Deschutes County Commissioners fail to support Badlands Wilderness!
Deschutes County takes no position on Badlands Wilderness
Deschutes County Commissioner DeWolf supports Badlands Wilderness
OpEd - Dirt road through The Badlands must close
Photos of Road 8 damage sent to Commissioners
Badlands Wilderness with a road?
BLM guidelines for Geocaching on public lands
Geocaching on Federal Forest Lands
OpEd - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands
Fee Demo groundwork may save Geocaching on our public lands
Protest of exclusion of Geocaching in Badlands WSA in BLM's UDRMP
BLM's UDRMP puts Bend's Badlands off limits to Geocaching
Deschutes County Commissioners hearing on Badlands Wilderness support
OHV use restricted in Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan
Winter hiking in The Badlands WSA just east of Bend
Tread Lightly OHV USFS tip of the month
OHVs to be held to designated trails by USDA Forest Service!
New pole shows Badlands Wilderness favored by voters
BLM posts Reward for information on Juniper rustlers
BLM weighing public input on management plan
Oregon's Badlands hit by old growth Juniper rustlers Photos
Congressman Greg Walden to visit The Badlands
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by COTA
OpEd - Unregulated OHV use is being reviewed across the western states
OHV use curtailed by new USFS policy decisions
Sierra Club's Juniper Group supports Badlands Wilderness
OHV regulation discussed at BLM meeting in Bend, Oregon
OpEd - Badlands part of BLM's recreation management area
OpEd - We need the Badlands Wilderness
OpEd - Off-roaders have no reason to fear Badlands Wilderness designation
Speak for the Badlands at Town Hall Meeting
Hiking poles are becoming essential gear
Vandals destroy ancient pictographs in the Badlands
Senator Wyden tests support of Badlands Wilderness
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by Bend City Commissioners
The Badlands: proposed for Wilderness status
The Badlands unique geologic forms explained by Chitwood pdf
The Badlands, a brief history
The Badlands pictographs reported 75 year ago
Read more . . .
Map of huge exclusive OHV areas adjoining the
Map of huge exclusive OHV areas adjoining the Badlands