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John Stewart

BLM Changes on the Snake River

IDAHO FALLS, ID (May 20, 2009): New Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service regulations were established on the South Fork and Lower Henry’s Fork of the Snake River to help protect the many valuable and unique natural resources in the river corridors. These changes will also assist managing agencies in properly maintaining the river corridor in an age of shrinking budgets coupled with increased visitor use. Some of the new regulations include:

·         Fire Pans Required: In order to prevent additional vegetation and soil disturbances, fire pans are now required. It is also impossible for agency staff to continuously remove all the ash from the fire pits that is left behind by visitors. Fire pans should be elevated off the ground to prevent scorching and should be at least 12-inches wide, with a 1 1/2-inch lip around its outer edge to sufficiently catch fire remains. All ash needs to be packed out with visitor before leaving their campsite.

·         Additional Designated Campsites: Over the next couple years, the entire river corridor on the South Fork will be identified with designated overnight campsites. These new sites will be modified after the designated campsite system in the “canyon” stretch below Conant Boat Ramp. By designation sites, people will know exactly where good camp locations are along the river, providing for better trip planning and safer boating. Designating sites also deters visitor use from sensitive plant and wildlife species, while providing an area where visitor impacts can occur.

·         Portable Toilets and Certified Waste Disposal Bags (WAG Bags or RESTOP): The human waste problem is getting worse on the rivers due to the increased use and the fact that people are not properly disposing of human waste. Agency staff continues to clean up messes left at designated camp sites. All overnight and day use boaters are required to carry out human waste properly, for example by using a portable toilet or certified waste disposal bags. Portable toilets must be reusable, washable, water tight and SCAT Machine or RV dump compatible. Portable toilets with snap-on lids (ammo can or plastic buckets) are required to have a rubber gasket in the lid. Plastic bag liners are not acceptable unless they are the Environmental Protection Agency approved WAG bag or RESTOP systems.

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John Stewart

BLM Colorado Releases 2008 Volunteer Report

DENVER – The 2008 BLM Colorado Volunteer Report is now available online. Last year volunteers contributed 172,354 hours of work – equivalent to 82 people working full time for one year - for the Bureau of Land Management throughout Colorado.

Volunteer work in 2008 was equivalent to nearly $3.4 million of paid labor.  In fact, Colorado has one of the Bureau’s leading volunteer programs in the nation. Last year, nearly 4,000 volunteers worked on public lands throughout the state.

Last month BLM named Ken Emory of Montrose BLM 2008 Volunteer of the Year for Colorado. This annual award recognizes members of the public whose outstanding volunteerism and commitment to public lands help the BLM succeed in its multiple-use mission. Emory volunteered more than 280 hours with BLM.

Generally, volunteer opportunities include: building and maintaining trails, assisting biologists with research, performing office support tasks, maintaining interpretive sites, serving as campground hosts or trail guides, inventorying and identifying plants, re-vegetating wildlife and riparian areas, installing signs and fences, constructing or maintaining facilities, assisting with habitat improvement projects, monitoring watershed studies, and preserving and cataloging cultural artifacts.

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John Stewart

New Direction in Agency Planning Efforts

Okay, I am going to unload a few tid-bits I have been collecting the past few months concerning new actions pending with land management issues.

BLM:  State-wide (California), BLM does not have a good inventory of routes nor do they have good mapping data.  To their credit, they are working to build a standard database of routes that reflects the management plans developed by the various field offices.

Forest Service:  Everyone is painfully familiar with the route designation process and the various gyrations over the past couple of years.  Well, the FS is at least trying to build a good database of their actions. I have used the term "database".  Specifically, this refers to the respective agencies moving into planning efforts using data that is coded into Geographic Information Systems (GIS) layers.

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John Stewart

BLM Recreation and Visitor Services

BLM Recreation and Visitor Services

 The BLM-managed public lands offer more diverse recreational opportunities than any other Federal agency.

On more than 258 million acres of public lands, people enjoy countless types of outdoor adventure – participating in activities as widely varied as camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, boating, whitewater rafting, hang gliding, off-highway vehicle driving, mountain biking, birding and wildlife viewing, photography, climbing, all types of winter sports, and visiting natural and cultural heritage sites.

In an increasingly urbanized West, these recreational opportunities and the landscape settings where they take place are vital to the quality of life enjoyed by residents of western states, as well as national and international visitors.

Recreational use on BLM-managed lands also helps support the economies of western communities and states. More than 22 million people now live within 25 miles of public lands, and two-thirds of the lands managed by the BLM are within 50 miles of an urban area. Visits to recreation sites on BLM-managed public lands have significantly increased over the years, from just more than 51 million in 2001 to over 55 million in 2006.

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