Friday, November 12, 2010

Arrow Canyon - Public Input

Arrow Canyon Wilderness – Notice of Proposed Action

The Southern Nevada District Office of the Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment and participation to help them develop a management plan for the Arrow Canyon Wilderness Area. The three public meetings that they have scheduled have already been held but they are accepting written comments from the public until November 19th.

I was unable to attend these meeting however I will be sending in a letter with my comments and I also encourage you to send in your feedback as well. Arrow Canyon is close to home for many of us and most likely you grew up exploring these canyons and playing on the sand dunes. Over the years we have seen many of our old haunts be gobbled up by over eager environmentalists grasping for their next wilderness trophy. This is done while most of us sit back and let it happen. If we don’t like how things are being managed we have to play a more active role in managing these areas. Yes, Arrow Canyon has already been deemed wilderness but they are proposing new actions and are asking for public input. This is our chance to be involved. Please send in your comments.

I believe that the current means by which the BLM announces their action items is lacking to say the least. I heard about this proposed action and public comment period at the Moapa Valley Town Board meeting this week. I then had to go to their website and search the “In the Spotlight” section for the Arrow Canyon news Release. By the time I had heard about it, all the public meetings had already taken place. I think that there is a better mechanism for how the BLM can communicate with the local communities and those interested in public lands.

I suggest that if they are going to have a public meeting in a community they should announce it in the local paper at least two weeks in advance. This will give those who are interested time to get to the meeting. We also live in a digital age where the majority of citizens have access to the internet and email. The BLM has a website and technical staff that manages their site and content. The BLM needs to set up some kind of news feed or email notification system that allows those who are interested to subscribe for current and upcoming news and action items.

I also think that the simple PDF letter that they provided with bullet points listing the overly vague proposed actions is a disservice to the community as well as underhand and misleading. They have extensive data and trained staff, where are the maps of the proposed actions? I would like to see where they are targeting the invasive species. I would like to see where the decommissioned trails are that they are closing. They talk about new trails to popular features but which popular features and where will the trails be? I would also be nice to have a decent map of the area. All of these things are not freely available, if available at all, to the community.

I am tired of feeling like the BLM is yet another group that I have to fight. They are a public entity tasked with being stewards of our public lands. I think that with a little effort the BLM could create strong community relations with the local communities that they should be working with not against. I have talked repeatedly in previous posts about the idea of the public being the BLM’s greatest asset. If only we could get together and work towards a common goal of responsible public lands stewardship.

Please send in your comments to the BLM and let them know your thoughts on the Arrow Canyon Wilderness Area Management and their proposed items. I would also ask that you request for a better notification system to alert the public of their news items and more information with their proposals.

Email comments to the following address by November 19th:

Description of Arrow Canyon
The 27,530-acre Arrow Canyon Wilderness Arrow Canyon was designated by Congress in 2002. Arrow Canyon Wilderness contains three distinct land forms. The west side is a spectacular cliff face marked by a distinctive dark gray band of limestone arcing across the length of the range. The north-central portion of the wilderness area contains a wide valley cut by numerous washes. The east side is characterized by a series of deep washes, including the nearly vertical sides of Arrow Canyon.

Link to the Notice of Proposed Action:

Proposed actions include:
  • non-native invasive plant species treatments to control tamarisk and other non-native invasive plants;
  • Restoration of approximately 2 miles of decommissioned route vehicle tracks to a natural condition;
  • Trail designation and construction to permit public access to popular features while reducing safety hazards and erosion in sensitive areas;
  • Developing guidelines and policies for technical rock-climbing including fixed hardware and maintenance;
  • Removal of spray-painted graffiti; repair of bore holes resulting from geologic sampling;
  • Creation of guidelines for the management of geologic research proposals; creation of guidelines for annual maintenance and repair of wildlife water developments;
  • Establishment of formal trailhead and parking areas at or near the Wilderness boundary with interpretation and education information at: the Warm Springs entrance at Arrow Canyon Ranch Road off Highway 168