It's a victory, but a small one. I'm not sure how many of you recognized that the Pocatello BLM Field Office, under the direction of Dave Pacioretty [firstname.lastname@example.org - (208)478-6340], has chosen to do their maps completely different than any other BLM field office has done in the past - and not in a good way! Charles (chuck) Patterson, the Recreation Planner [email@example.com (208)478-6362] is the person managing the TMP.
Instead of giving us a file of the routes they INTEND TO CLOSE under each of the "proposals," their maps try to obfuscate the issue and "spin" it into "these are the trails which will be left open" under two different scenarios. That means that in order to even make sense of what the BLM is trying to do it is UP TO YOU to look at one map and TRY AND GUESS WHAT'S MISSING!!
So, that's the FIRST Terrible Thing: The Pocatello BLM is refusing to clearly enumerate the trails they intend to close! What the public needs in order to make an informed comment, as required by law that they allow us make, is a clear, concise and accurate map of their intentions; a map for each of the intended CLOSURES.
To try and circumvent that a little, Offroading Home has tried to convert the BLM maps into a format which is much more revealing and, hopefully, a lot easier to understand. [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Bear Lake Trail Closure Map.] Download this map and follow along if you wish.
The SECOND Terrible Thing is like unto it, except that it borders on complete incompetence. NONE OF THE TRAILS ARE NAMED IN ANY WAY! This renders even talking about a specific trail, or making any rational comment completely impossible! For example, in number three below there are phenominal numbers of their trail graphics which aren't complete; BUT, how would you even communicate that to them? You can't.
I know of no BLM Field Office which has ever taken the time to meaningfully label any of the trails on their closure maps for the public; HOWEVER, everyone else has at least given them unique letters and numbers so that people can intelligently reference them in communications. The Pocatello office completely ignores that - perhaps they are counting on no one desiring to even comment.
The THIRD Terrible Thing: I've already referenced above - there are countless errors in the maps which we have been given! So many so that I can't begin to enumerate - oops, that's right, I couldn't even if I tried because none of them are labeled.
Anyone who picks up a map and zooms in close, can easily see lines which begin, then stop and later begin again. Other lines which are labeled "open" but one tiny segment in the middle is labeled closed. Other lines which are closed on the "Less Closure" map but which are open on the "more closure" map. Trails which span sections of several other trails - you can tell when you click them on and off in Google Earth.
All of this in addition to the FOURTH Terrible Thing: visually it just "looks like" the Google Earth maps they have just given us, don't contain all the trail closures which they show on their printed version! However, I must point out again, none of their printed maps have any georeferencing data on them which would enable us to register them on Google Earth and allow us to even verify the fact.
What We Simply MUST Do1 – Anyone who has or would like to ride the area simply MUST HAVE MORE TIME TO COMMENT before the deadline! Write Mr Patterson (and his boss Pacioretty) and request and extension on the comment period. Cite any or all of the rationale I've just mentioned. We cannot possibly be expected to make intelligent comments when a) the maps we've been given are incorrect, b) the maps we've been given are deceptive in what the BLM intends to close, and c) none of the trails are even labeled such that we can communicate intelligently.
2 – Anyone who is the least concerned with fairness in the BLM management process - especially any of you lawyers - should recognize how unfair it is to make such draconian trail closure plans when weather prevents citizens from being active on the trails. Write the Pocatello BLM and urgently request an extension to the comment period (as has been done in several other TMPs from other BLM field offices - cite Havasu).
3 – We simply must have more accurate closure maps! The errors in the maps they have given us should be corrected, the trails should be labeled AND the maps should be made to reflect Intended Closures not what is left after the closures!
4 – Any of you who live in Idaho's Bear Lake County, this is your riding area. As a citizen of the area you have the right to request your city/county governement review and give a vote of support for leaving the trails open - and forward the resolution to the BLM. Of course it's non-binding, the BLM does what it darn well pleases, but making widely public and visible their actions is something they try to avoid. It just could make a difference – it did in Havasu, Arizona!
Lets just hope that we aren't too late. It's a terrible thing to only be given information which tells us how bad things are with only two weeks left to do anything about it!
1- The Pocatello Field Office:
4350 Cliffs Drive
Pocatello, ID 83204
Field Manager: Dave Pacioretty
Office hours: 7:45am - 4:30pm, M-F
2- The Recreation Planner, Bear Lake TMP:
Charles Patterson, Recreation Planner
Office phone: (208)478-6362
Address: 4350 Cliffs Drive, Pocatello, Idaho 83204
3- Bear Lake TMP web site: Bear Lake TMP
4- Printable comment form for the Bear Lake TMP - Deadline: 24 March 2011: Bear Lake TMP Printable Comment Form
5- PDF "closure" maps: Option "A" - remain as is; Option "B" - many closures; Option "C" - a lot of closures.