Sunday, February 21, 2010

BLM: Overton Town Meeting

After the great meeting the BLM put on in Mesquite the other week, Gordon and I took a ride down to Overton to see what those good people had to say — there were both some similarities and differences and a very important new revelation (see below).

Differences: There were refreshments — What's up with that? Even though we didn't get any at the Mesquite meeting, we both decided to take the high road and not sulk… well too much.

Secondly, it may just be my perception, but those guys seemed a bit more… "sedate" than we did up here in Mesquite. A welcome relief I'm sure to Ms. Gayle Marrs-Smith and her fellow's.

Of course the group was a bit smaller… and did I say there were refreshments!

Similarities: Attendees were just as vocal and upset at what is perceived as "double-dealing" – for want of a better word. Except what do you call it when, even though assurance after assurance was given with statements like "this road won't be closed," "trails existing before 1998 will be grandfathered and not closed," "the closures are over, there will be no more closed," "lets work together," and "we will make it accessible to individuals of all capabilities" – still trail after trail is closed?

Both the citizens of Overton and Mesquite – who said they had lived in the area all of their lives, and even had "cooperated" with the BLM in identifying and tracking the trails – gave voice to disappointment, disgust and even feelings of betrayal.

In both communities people rose and spoke that it seemed to them the BLM gave inordinate "ear" and deference to "special interest groups like the "friends of Gold Butte and Sierra Club" (actually 4 in Mesquite and 2 in Overton – I counted).

At the meeting an elected official of the area rose and spoke to the BLM's Bob Ross about how the town board had spent many hours and a lot of money in producing an environmental impact report and developing a recreation plan for the area. He plead with the BLM to consider and respect their well developed and considered plan in their considerations.

Several offroaders rose in defense of historical – and BLM approved – offroad rallies. Apparently, years worth of GEO-coded maps which were required to be submitted with the applications, were no longer available at the BLM. Mr. Ross said that if they could somehow find copies of the old routes he would be most interested in receiving them.

There was also the issue of some trail types which should have been "grandfathered," but were not. A mention was made of laws requiring access to mine roads and that other officials had promised would be excluded. Mr. Ross said he would definitely like to be advised of any specific mines which fell into that category.

Carolyn Ronning -
   Resource Management Plan
4701 N Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas Nevada 89130

BLM Mailing Address

One big difference: which stood out to me was meeting the BLM staffer who was in charge of writing an entirely different "recreation plan." I'm sorry that I didn't catch her name, she wasn't able to attend the Mesquite meeting, but she stated that concurrent with the overall "Resource Plan," (whose meeting we were attending)and completely separate from it, she was going to hold a series of meetings which probably have much more relevance to specific, future trail closures/openings etc.! I did hear Mr. Ross tell her that she should use the registration sign-up sheets at Mesquite and Overton for her mailing list of people to invite to her meetings.

The lady said that while the "Resource Plan" dealt with issues at a "10,000" foot view, the "recreation plan" – which she was responsible for, would get specific about what activities would be allowed in what areas and what would be prohibited. The room was noisy during her discussion so I didn't near all she said; but, what I did hear convinced me that THIS TOO would be an activity which should be carefully watched.

Some snippets of her conversation which I DID hear were basically: "we sit around a table and 'draw on maps,'" "I hope you are all there when we 'draw on maps,'" "we try and find places for as many types of recreation as we can," and "this is how we did it last time." (Actually, other community leaders seem surprised when I told them of the additional 'planning' activity she talked about.)

Additionally, in response to a concerned voiced by her questioner, which I couldn't hear, she said "that's what I worry about… so you don't need to."

Huh? It seems to me that the people attending these community meetings had just been voicing that they had all had been having too much "faith" and trust, and had relied on others to "worry for them" too much during the past go around.

At any rate — the process is just beginning. LETTERS are necessary to have your voice heard, NOT mere anonymous vocalizations in a meeting. You should know that the government runs on PAPER- letters (which need to be read, logged and filed) are historically ALL that seem to matter.

The deadline for this round of "input" is Feb 28th, 2010. It doesn't take long to hand-write a note about your favorite trails, how long you have been riding them, what they have meant to you and about any other concern you have for the riding area.

Here's Hoping…

That Mr. Ross mandates his people to:
  • Meticulously maintain an "open government" posture and make ALL responses, and the contents of ALL visits from lobbyists and special intrest groups open for public purusal.
  • Causes much more detailed and usable maps (with actual road names and/or GPS coordinates) to be utilized in all communications.
  • Diminishes the amount of credence the BLM gives to special interests groups, especially those largely composed of and supported by dontations of non-area residents.
  • Re-establishes the imporance of MULTI-use planning.
  • Compulsively maintains and uses an "All Interested Parties" mailing list for advance notification of meetings, votes, decisions, and requests for comments.
  • Scrupulously takes the needs and interests of the areas rising senior populations into account in ALL decisons.
  • Make any change in the open and easily comprehendable and give MORE than 30 days for people to re-check a proposal for any closures (which took the BLM much more than that to produce themselves).
  • Makes extra-ordinary effort to OPEN as many opportunities as they CLOSE for our public lands.
  • That this next "round" of decisions give the area populations LESS reason for complaint about "back-door politics," un-kept promises and lack of responsiveness to citizens needs.
Write to:

Carolyn Ronning - Resource Management Plan
4701 N Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas Nevada 89130


No kidding! This means YOU! It only takes but 5 minutes, and will definitely make a difference.


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