Section 1503(b)(1) of The Act states, “Subject to valid existing rights, each area designated as wilderness by this subtitle shall be administered by the Secretary [of Interior] in accordance with the Wilderness Act [of 1964].”
While The Act specifically provides for continued operation of commercial outfitting and guiding activities in wilderness areas, those activities are limited by the requirements of Section 4(c) of the 1964 Wilderness Act, which states that “…subject to existing private rights…there shall be…no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment..., no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.”
On the subject of Road Closures, to comply with the Wilderness Act of 1964, BLM is locating and signing wilderness boundary roads, which will remain open to the public. All roads leading into Wilderness Areas will eventually be signed and barricaded. According to the Act, gates will allow passage of motorized vehicles and equipment for emergency purposes, and will also provide grazing permittees access to repair or maintain existing range improvements on a limited and as-authorized basis only.
Hunters and other recreationists accessing Wilderness Areas will not be allowed the use of motorized or mechanized vehicles or equipment. Section 1507(d)(1) of The Act also states, “…all recreational motorized and mechanized off-highway vehicle use [within Owyhee County] shall be limited to roads and trails lawfully in existence on the day before the date of enactment of this Act.”
BLM has maps on its website, which can be downloaded, showing where these Wilderness Areas are located in Owyhee County. To view the latest maps of the new Wilderness Areas, go to www.id.blm.gov and click on “Owyhee Wilderness MAPS”. The routes on the maps that appear to enter Wilderness Areas are cherry-stem routes that Congress specifically excluded from Wilderness designation. All other routes, whether or not they are currently gated or barricaded, officially end at the wilderness boundaries. Please ensure that you do not enter any Wilderness Area on a closed route.
If you have questions regarding the above information, please call Bruneau Field Manager Arnie Pike at (208) 384-3331, Owyhee Field Manager Buddy Green at (208) 896-5913, or Jarbidge Assistant Field Manager Jill Ralston at (208) 736-2364.