Saturday, March 7, 2015

BLM Closures - 2015 Version for Mesquite-Gold Butte

The BLM is at it again in 2015 and (surprise, surprise) using the same tactics of obfuscation and deception they've used in years previous – despite the rhetoric about "transparency."

Yesterday (Friday) I received a copy of the CD containing 2,000 pages of new BLM land use planning given out in the Mesquite City Council meeting the day before.
  [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Google Earth Trail FileBLM Closures 2015.]

From the person who sent it to me, it appears that the city council was completely blind-sided by the BLM (amazing) and demanded a face-to-face explanation with the intent of begging them for a magnanimous extension on the deadline (Mar 9th) for responses.

Amazingly, he described that the members seemed completely unaware of how the actions of the previous councils were seen by the BLM and how they have fed into all the problems being inflicted on the community currently.

Be that as it may, they begged for an extension and (of course) Ms. Marr-Smith would be able to claim that "it isn't my call" so only gave a statement that she would basically "talk to the boss."

Even if granted, highly doubtful, the info on the CD was the same kind of obfuscation that was contained in that given out 4 years ago before they hired all the college kids to barricade all the trails on the Butte.

The CD is in proprietary format (.pdf) and they've deliberately turned off all the capabilities for people to freely examine, copy and forward. In order to change it to a different format the BLM apparently wants the public to pay a fee to Adobe and register with a paid service (why the government is in kahoots with a private enterprise who can tell.)

The CD contains no specific answers to people's questions about what the intent to close off this year. The only files on the disk merely contain high-level maps of general areas and don't give specifics. Additionally, the "off highway vehicles" map is full of cross-references to other parts of the plan that you have to wade through. For example it references the "turtle plan" which has a section of its own (if you can find it).

At any rate, the file I made contains overlays of the map content of the so-called plan. It was hand made through screen-shots, copy and pasting and registered to Google Earth coordinates the best I could by hand.

Each "alternative" has its own map overlay. You can turn each one on or off by clicking the box on the left. Green are the only areas considered "open" (less than 1%) all the rest have restricted access and travel.

Currently, they claim, 52% of the area is accessible via designated routes, trails and dry washes – the DARK BLUE. Thirty-two percent via designated routes only – LIGHT BLUE and 10% closed – red.

The first thing to go - option 2 - is the accessibility through dry washes! Everywhere! [No mention that that one step prohibits access to many other available trails or makes connections so onerous that they are closed for all intents and purposes.] This one non-negotiable change closes completely 14% of the area and renders over 86% with restricted accessibility.

You will also immediately notice that the so-called "alternatives" 3 and 4 are identical maps! a) either a complete screwup by the BLM distributed all around the state as the only option people have to understand the they intend to do; OR, the "true" differences are hidden in some aspect which does not show up on the map that they've give us.

Bottom Line From What We See

1- It is obvious that the BLM really doesn't intend "transparency" in any of their public dealings. No publicly accessible data has been given this go-round either even though specific complaints and issues were raised with their methodology last time and excused as "unintentional." From the way they've treated the Mesquite Government officials it is obvious that they've been singled out for exclusionary tactics.

2- Apparently, at least on paper, Gold Butte currently contains allowances for ORVs to ride on designated trails plus washes and drainages BUT that will totally go away everywhere under every so-called "option."

3- Additional differences obvious in the maps relate to expansion of wilderness areas and oblique references to closing all use of trails therein to the sole use of the "Sierra Club" type hikers.


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