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BLM's final UDRMP opens Bend's Badlands WSA to Geocaching!


The BLM issued the final UDRMP in September 2005, and the following was part of the first page of this 256 page document:

"Changes between the Proposed and Final Management Plan
There have been some changes between the Proposed and Final Resource Management Plans in response to protests and comments received on the Proposed RMP. In addition to one substantive change, format and text were edited to improve the usability of the RMP.

The substantive change involves the proposed closure of Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) to geocaching. A? er consideration of relevant protests, it was determined that geocaching could be managed under the Interim Management Policy for WSAs without adversely impacting the wilderness suitability of each WSA. This decision was based in part on the consideration that current levels of geocaching use have not been determined to affect wilderness suitability. This decision is fully described in the RMP. It contains a set of mitigation measures for geocaching that would protect wilderness values within the two WSAs (Badlands and Steelhead Falls). This decision does not restrict the ability of the BLM to institute closures in the future if use levels and impacts increase or if Congress designates either WSA as Wilderness."

The final UDRMP continues on pages 71 to 73:

Objective SMA - 4: Manage Wilderness Study Areas to maintain wilderness suitability consistent with the "Interim Management Policy for Lands under Wilderness Review" (USDI BLM, 1995).

Steelhead Falls and Badlands WSAs are existing WSAs located in the planning area. The BLM is required to maintain the suitability of these WSAs for possible future wilderness designation by Congress (H-8550-1). General management policy for these areas is set forth in the Interim Management Policy for Lands under Wilderness Review (1995). Like most of the BLM administered land in the planning area, these two areas are receiving increasing visitation and use by the public. Both local and out of area visitation is increasing, resulting in user conflicts, safety issues, visitor dissatisfaction, and resource impacts. There are ongoing occurrences of vandalism to
cultural resources, and theft of firewood, furniture wood and decorative stone in the Badlands WSA.

Allocations and Allowable Uses:
1. WSA Area: Badlands WSA, 29,545 acres6; Steelhead Falls WSA, 3,071 acres.
2. Fire Management: Prescribed fire and suppression activities will be allowed consistent with the District's Fire Management Plan and with the non-impairment standard of the "Interim Management Policy for Lands under Wilderness Review" ("IMP", USDI BLM, 1995).
3. Vegetative treatments: Treatments will be allowed that meet the non-impairment standard of the IMP.
4. Forest/range products: Generally, harvesting of wood products and special forest and range products will not be allowed except in conjunction with restoration treatments.
5. Minerals:
a. Mining for mineral materials will not be allowed.
b. Development of mining claims and geophysical exploration may be allowed with restrictions designed to prevent impairment of wilderness suitability. Approved plans of operation must meet the non-impairment standard of the IMP.
c. The Badlands WSA designation closes the area to mineral leasing. If the WSA designation is dropped, mineral leasing will be allowed in the Badlands ACEC
but the area will be closed to surface occupancy.
d. Decorative stone collection will not be allowed.
e. Rock hounding will not be allowed.
6. Livestock Grazing: Livestock grazing will be managed according to the non impairment standards of the IMP.
7. Recreation: Motorized vehicle use will not be allowed. The use of paintball guns is not allowed (also see Recreation section).
8. Firearm Discharge: Firearm discharge will not be allowed unless legally hunting. Within 4 mile of Badlands Rock, there is a seasonal closure to all firearm discharge.
9. Rights-of-Way:
a. New rights-of-ways (ROWs) will be granted only if no other reasonable route is available. Where new ROW cannot be reasonably accommodated outside of the WSA, consider first along existing utility corridors, county roads, or BLM system roads.
b. Vacated ROWs will be considered for conversion to compatible trails prior to obliteration.
10. Land Ownership: Recreation and Public Purposes Act (R&PP) leases will not be issued for lands within the WSA unless such leases are non-patent leases that will not impair the values of this WSA.
11. All Wilderness Study Areas recommended to Congress maintain that designation unless Congress decides otherwise.
12. Additional management direction for the Steelhead Falls WSA is provided in the Middle Deschutes Lower Crooked River Management Plan (USDI-BLM and USDA FS, 1992).

1. Survey and locate boundaries of each WSA on the ground.
2. Use signs, fences and other appropriate techniques to define and mark the boundaries of each WSA.
3. Vegetation management efforts will be designed to mimic natural processes and avoid impairment of the area's suitability for wilderness designation.
4. Geocaching will be managed in the Badlands and Steelhead Falls WSAs so as to not impair each area's suitability for wilderness
designation by Congress. Within these WSAs, geocaches will not be allowed in areas that are closed year-round or seasonally for wildlife management reasons.
a. The BLM may request removal of geocaches located in sensitive locations or impairing wilderness characteristics. The BLM may remove caches as needed to maintain wilderness suitability or protect resources. These may include locations within or adjacent to sensitive wildlife habitat, wildlife water guzzlers, sensitive or special status plant communities, or archeological sites.
b. Caches in locations where the use creates obvious surface disturbance of the soil or vegetation, including vegetative trampling, that will necessitate reclamation will be relocated or removed. Geocaches must be concealed in a way that does not disturb an area, and will not require damage to vegetation to reveal the cache. Concealment of geocaches by burial in the ground is prohibited.
c. To prevent degradation to wilderness characteristics, the total number of caches allowed at anyone time in the WSAs will be limited to no more than the number known to exist on the date that this provision was crafted (i.e., 17 in the Badlands WSA and 3 in the Steelhead Falls WSA). Given the larger area and more dispersed, open setting, the threshold of geocache sites in the Badlands is greater than the much smaller river canyon setting of Steelhead Falls WSA.
d. A record of repeated violations of the above provisions, of instances where BLM must relocate or remove caches, or of increasing disturbance to wilderness characteristics and other special wilderness features from geocaching activities will result in either closure of the entire WSA to physical geocaching or in development of an alternative restriction on geocaching activities designed to remedy the problem, and to be determined by the authorized officer.
e. If either WSA becomes designated as Wilderness, the geocaching provisions described above will be reviewed during the development of the required Wilderness Management Plan. The geocaching provisions described above for the WSA could be revised, if necessary, at that time.


Note: This is a victory of common sense! American Geocachers should be thankful we fought this battle for them all. Prohibiting Geocaching in the Badlands WSA would have set a precedent for all land managers of Wilderness Study Areas, including other BLM offices and our Forest Service and National Park Service across the country.
--Robert Speik

Note:  The following statement was added to this web in February, 2005: The BLM’s Upper Deschutes Resources Management Plan, the UDRMP, is an agency-required standard periodic review of on the ground management of our huge 400,000 acre desert land area east of Bend, Oregon. Within this management area lies The Badlands Wilderness Study Area (WSA), established over 25 years ago.

The recently published BLM Management Plan arbitrarily eliminates the activity of Geocaching in The Badlands WSA.

There was no discussion or hearing about the elimination of Geocaching from The Badlands WSA during the months long public debate of the UDRMP. Obscure references buried in the huge document went un-noticed by the general public.

Only one comment on Geocaching was submitted to the BLM during the public comment phase of the Draft UDRMP and it is a permanent part of the analysis file. The comment was submitted by a BLM Recreational Planner speaking as a concerned public citizen, not as an employee.

This informed person believed that “Geocaching should be allowed in the Badlands and Steelhead Falls WSAs.” It is apparent in the comment that the individual knew that geocaching could meet BLM interim management policy for lands under Wilderness review.

I filed a formal legal Protest of this UDRMP ban of Geocaching with the BLM office in Washington, D.C. My Protest was based in part on the fact that the Plan failed to provide for the established legal right of local folks to continue using their public lands for an activity until there has been a public hearing covering any proposed management limitation of use. The Protest document was written primarily by Nils Eddy and Gladys Bigelow based in part on the input of Central Oregonians on
--Robert Speik, (Baron Max and Mrs. Max, with Little Max, the real "Baron Max").  Click the button for the full story of our formal Protest: 




Read more . . .

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Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can in part, be mitigated