Monday, February 8, 2010

BLM Town Meeting for RMP Input

Huh? One of the problems in understanding what is going on around here is all the acronyms people throw around. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is holding a series of town meetings to gain "input" for the 3-year Resource Management Plan (RMP) covering this whole area from Mesquite down to California.

The ATV club heard about the meeting being held in Mesquite a few nights ago (last Thursday) from circulars being passed around the local "conservation" community. And I have to say that, for an event which only had a couple of days notice to the "riding community," it sure drew a lot of us off the trails!

There were over a hundred people… in the council chambers at City Hall during the first (of three) hour sessions. About 50 or so the second hour and even at least 30 for the third hour [ok, a couple of us compulsives did stay for the whole evening]

#15 Teamwork is essential -- it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.”
Murphy's Laws of Combat Operations

I felt a bit sorry for the Field Manager of the Las Vegas BLM Field Office who braved the crowd to explain all the charts, while a lot of other employees gave him their support… from the wings. To everyone's credit civility reigned for the night, even though it was clear that the vast majority of attendees were in no small amount very "upset" with not only all the trail closures but the methodology the BLM has used to do it!

Citizen after citizen said they felt basically "betrayed" at what appeared to be mere "lip-service" to citizen input. And at every session public comments had to be cut short to "make way" for the next group. Incidences of specific past BLM assurances of "no more closures" made over the past 6 years couldn't be addressed by the Field Manager who had only been in the job for a couple of years.

Even more unusual, although present at the meeting, the "conservationists" seemed notibly quiet during the meeting. Possibly because they were significantly out numbered.

It is said that the BLM wants letters about our concerns/desires sent to them before the 28th of this month! A court reporter was there and many of us took the opportunity to go "on record" with issues to be addressed.

Issues I heard voiced were:
  • BLM Mis-reprepresentation of its true intent during previous citizen meetings.

  • The seeming over-acceptance of the "friends" of Gold Butte lobbyist above the majority of Mesquite citizens.

  • The apparent lack of consideration for seniors and disabled in planning closures.

  • Specific anger over "rushing" to close "Kurt's Grotto" before even having a plan for citizen access down a steep and dangerous cliff.

  • Lack of planning or conservation sensibility in the modifications being done at "Falling Man."

  • Every single "good thing to see" is now closed to anyone but hikers.

  • Several other specific instances of promises not being kept along with arbitrary changes in plans without process of additional input etc.

In fairness to the Field Manager it didn't seem like he was aware of the extent of the "angst" over the closures that exists in the community. Possibly due to assuming that everyone holds the same opinion as the paid lobbyist for the Fiends of Gold Butte who visits them so frequently. Or the local newspaper who seems to be a public relations arm for the group.

Although it was hard to understand what she was saying at the time, the one comment that the paid lobbyist for the "friends" did make was something that sounded like "hikers only have 9 miles of trails" and it would "seem fair" that they had "their fair share" when compared to the hundreds of trails that vehicles have. I hope that wasn't what she actually said, even though others heard the same thing, because it is completely absurd on the face of it!

A) There are perhaps hundreds of miles of trails now "closed" for anything except horses and hiking. B) Nearly the entirety of Gold Butte can be hiked upon! C) All of us are willingly considerate to hikers on ALL trails! D) What kind of "fairness" is it to take the hikers "9-miles" to be ALL of the destinations of things to see? And, E) Absolutely NO provisions are made for "hikers" of senior age!

Well — IT ISN'T OVER!   But it is an eye-opener for us to be able to actually quantify a bit better the large proportion of the citizenry who are not-at-all-happy with ANY attempt or proposal to close or reduce the ability to ride offroad in the area!

Elected officials take note!


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