May 1, 2008
BLM Issues Immediate Temporary Closure of Clear Creek Management Area
To protect public health and safety from exposure to asbestos, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today issued an immediate temporary closure of 31,000 acres of public lands in Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) in southern San Benito and western Fresno counties to all public use.
BLM's action is in response to a human health risk assessment released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that concludes the exposures measured by EPA for many recreational activities at CCMA are "above the EPA acceptable risk range of lifetime cancers." It also notes that children "have greater risk than adults due to higher exposure measurements [and] are of special concern because their exposures occur earlier in their lives." This risk impacts recreational off-highway vehicle use, and extends to other forms of public recreation use/access in CCMA, according to the assessment.
Rick Cooper, BLM's Hollister field manager stated, "Protecting the public's health and safety is BLM’s number one priority. Based on EPA's results, we believe a temporary closure of most of the CCMA is in the public interest and we ask for the public’s cooperation. With the closure in place, we will immediately move on with developing a long-term resource management plan (RMP) for the area with the public’s full involvement."
BLM will continue public scoping started last year for the RMP through June 21, 2008. BLM has also scheduled two public workshops (May 19 in Hollister and May 21 in San Jose) to discuss the planning process to be held locally and in the South Bay. BLM is also hosting an informational meeting May 8 at the Convention Center in Santa Clara for EPA representatives to present assessment findings with the public. Separate announcements on these meetings have been issued.
BLM manages 63,000 acres of public lands within the CCMA, which covers 75,000 acres. The area has been used extensively for OHV recreation for many years as well as hunting and rock hounding. The CCMA also encompasses the Serpentine Area of Critical Environmental Concern, the San Benito Mountain Research Natural Area, and the Pajaro, Arroyo Pasajaro and Silver Creek watersheds.
The BLM will work closely with interested parties to develop management actions best suited to the resources and the needs of the public, Cooper emphasized. This collaborative process will take into account local, regional, and national concerns. Early participation by all interested parties is encouraged and will help guide the planning process and determine the future management of public lands.