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OHV use restricted in Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan

BLM plan decreases land for off-road use

The Bulletin
By Lily Raff
January 14, 2005

PRINEVILLE — A proposal to be released today by the Bureau of Land Management would reduce the overall acreage on which off-highway vehicle use is permitted in Central Oregon. The three-volume plan proposes banning recreational motorized use in the Badlands, a desert area about 20 miles east of Bend. But the plan could also open doors for OHV users, as it proposes year-round vehicle access in some areas now closed during winter, and proposes constructing "corridors" that would connect popular OHV trails.

Four years in the making, the Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan will guide the long-term management of about 400,000 acres of public land. Today's release, called the Final Environmental Impact Statement, is the last draft of the plan being released for public comment.

Anyone may submit comments on the plan until the protest period ends Feb. 14. BLM officials expect to then spend four or five months revising the plan before the resulting document is officially adopted.

"That (time frame) really depends a lot on the number of protests and the difficulty in resolving those protests," said Mollie Chaudet, BLM project manager.

The planning area is bordered by Lake Billy Chinook on the north, La Pine on the south, Sisters on the west and Prineville Reservoir on the east. Land within those boundaries is used for recreation, grazing, military training, scientific research and commercial harvest of timber and minerals.

The challenge in drafting the plan is finding a way to balance all of these interests, said Robert Towne, BLM area field manager.

More than 80 people from outside the BLM contributed 5,400 hours to help design the plan, officials said.

Plan is a compromise

And the resulting proposal requires some compromise by everyone. Although federal land is designated as "multi-use," officials say that doesn't mean every acre can be used for anything. The proposed plan separates uses in some recreational areas, to reduce conflicts between OHV-users and other types of trail-users such as hikers or horseback riders.

Vehicles would be prohibited on about 92,057 acres, according to the plan. Currently, only about 11,000 acres are off-limits to vehicles. And no land would be open for vehicle use off roads and trails, under the new plan. Currently, 153,600 acres are completely open to all OHV use.

Seasonal restrictions would be lifted in some areas of Millican Plateau and South Millican, for example. Trails in those popular areas are currently closed to vehicle use in the winter. Also, most of the area surrounding La Pine will be closed to vehicle use, according to the plan. The Rosland OHV play area, also near La Pine, will remain open to OHVs year-round, as will a corridor connecting the play area to Deschutes National Forest.

The plan also proposes a reduction in the number of acres available for grazing — from 389,900 acres to 268,815 acres. About 721 acres would be closed to grazing. And more than 3,000 acres would be closed to grazing unless drought, fire or other events necessitate that more land be opened.

Officials said the plan will be implemented over time, as specific projects are planned, approved and carried out.

Volunteers needed

Towne predicted that individual projects may require help from the same communities that helped draft the broad plan.

Facing budget restrictions, the BLM may depend on volunteers from the Central Oregon Trail Alliance, a mountain-biking organization, to help construct new trails outlined in the plan, for instance.

"Before it was time to sharpen your pencils," Towne said. "Now it's time to roll up your sleeves."

Until recently, the entire planning area was included in the 1.1 million acres managed under the Brothers-La Pine Resource Management Plan, which was completed in 1989.

But Central Oregon's population boom created conflicts among the increasing numbers of public land users.

Areas surrounding Bend, Redmond and La Pine, for example, suddenly seemed to outgrow the management plan.

So officials identified about 400,000 acres in an area they considered the "urban interface" — or areas of public land adjacent — and started drafting a new management plan.

"We asked ourselves, where in this landscape are growth issues affecting federal land?" Towne said. "Past Highway 27 (east of Bend), for example, these issues of growth seem to drop off."

For more information on the plan, or to request a copy, visit Comments on the plan are due Feb. 14 and may be sent to Mollie Chaudet, Bureau of Land Management, Prineville District Office, 3050 NE Third St., Prineville, OR 97754.



Off Roaders Find New BLM Plan Lacking

Posted on Monday, January 17, 2005 (PST)

Motorcycle and ATV riders give the latest federal land plan for Central Oregon a thumbs down. Joanie Dufourd of the Central Oregon Motorcycle and ATV Club says the proposed Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan is unfair to off-road enthusiasts. She says also doubts the feds have the money to develop the new trails the plan suggests using to replace areas that are being closed. She’s working with the Oregon Recreation Coalition on a formal response. Your comments are due no later than February 14th.


OHV "Tread Lightly" tip of the month, July 2004

Quoted from USDA Forest Service, Official Website Recreation Report for July 2004:

"Tread Lightly Tip of the Month:
The logo for Tread Lightly is a thumb print which stands for leaving a good impression. Unfortunately, too many riders have not been practicing this, and now one of our most popular trails at East Fort Rock, TR 55 to East Butte Lookout, has been closed until September 30 to protect the lookout and lookouts from the vandalism, belligerent behavior, vulgar language, irresponsible riding, drinking, and littering caused by riders who don't think or don't care. We are all ambassadors for our sport and the future of our sport depends on all of us. If riders want to party and be irresponsible, they are not welcome here.

 With everyone's help, maybe we can turn this attitude around and keep Central Oregon what it is, or was, a place to ride."


For a depiction of the "shared use" attribute of our dedicated National Forest OHV Trail system go to the




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