The BLM has released its Draft Resource Management Plan. This is big because it’s one step closer to the release of the TMP (Travel Management Plan) which will happen once the public comment period (Ending October 15th) has been closed and all decisions have been made. The RMP is important for us as mountain bikers because it is the broad strokes of what will be the end product of land use management in Washington County.
Since its release, I have been bombarded with questions from people worried about what the RMP means for public land access. As these questions turned into conversations, I have found there are many misconceptions at what the draft is saying, what it means for the public and how to go about influencing the end decision. So let’s start by clearing up some misunderstandings.
- There is no land grab. The land in question is already controlled by the BLM. The RMP is strictly the proposal for how the BLM will be managing that land. No land is changing hands.
- The BLM is not taking land away from the St. George Field Office. The St. George Field Office is the BLM. They are the ones that conducted the studies, mapped all of the existing routes in the county and created the four alternatives.
- No part of the RMP will negatively affect mountain biking. There is some language that on the outside can look suspicious, but I’ll explain that in depth below. There is actually a decision within the draft that states that the BLM is looking to create a world class non-motorized trail network. That’s us. We get more trails.
- There is no part of the RMP that will completely eliminate public access. I have heard this multiple times, especially in regards to Bull Valley, it’s simply not true.
Now that we have the myths out of the way, let’s talk about the stuff that really matters.
First, the RMP is a draft. The county is broken into different sections and each section is given four alternatives Alternative A leaves the land management the same meaning that there is no change. Yes, you read that correctly. This means that if Alternative A is chosen, nothing will change. Alternatives B, C and D all have varying levels of conservation versus access. Alternative B is the St. George Field Office’s preferred alternative as it is a good compromise between allowing access and recreation while conserving the beauty and natural resources of the area.
To influence the BLM’s decision regarding which alternative to implement, public comments will be accepted until October 15th (yes, that means you only have two days left). To voice your opinion, go here.
As far as mountain biking trails are concerned, the Resource Management Plan sets the stage for the release of the Travel Management Plan. The TMP will be the determining factor as to how many new trails we get in the next few years. The best alternatives for mtb trails will be based on the BLM implementing Alternative B for the RMP. This will set the stage for the possibility of constructing over 200 miles of new singletrack.
Yup, you should go comment now.
The one area that I am consistently getting questioned about is Bull Valley. Within the Plan there is some language that on the surface would appear that the RMP would be restricting mountain biking in this area. The last RMP had designated this area as a Mountain Biking Area which essentially required the BLM to treat mountain biking trails in the area the same as the do for OHV access. This means that within those areas mountain bikers were considered more closely to motorized travel than non-motorized. Of course, mountain bikes are non-motorized so this opens up more possibilities for us.
There are currently no mountain bike trails within the Bull Valley area and we have not proposed any. However, none of the alternatives in the RMP would block us from doing so in the future.
To sum things up, the RMP is good for us as it sets the stage for large scale trail development in the TMP. Again, the best option for mountain biking is Alternative B as it will set us up to implementing 200+ miles of singletrack once the dust settles and the TMP is released and implemented.
We highly encourage you to read through the documents and comment. All information and links are here.