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Alternatives Proposed by the BLM Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan

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Below  is a summary of the four different BLM “Alternatives” for the Eastern Interior RMP.

To see the entire BLM plan that has been in the works since 2008, visit:

https://www.blm.gov/epl-front-office/project

Summary of BML’s Plan:

In developing alternatives the basic goal was to prepare different combinations of management actions to address issues and resolve conflicts among uses. Alternatives must meet the purpose and need; be reasonable; provide a mix of resource protection, use, and development; be responsive to the issues; and meet the established planning criteria. Each alternative constitutes a complete RMP that provides a framework for multiple use management of the full spectrum of resources, resource uses, and programs present in the planning area. Under all alternatives the BLM would manage their lands in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, and BLM policies and guidance.

This Draft RMP/EIS develops four alternatives carried forward for detailed analysis in the Draft EIS. Alternative A (No Action Alternative) represents the continuation of current management practices. Alternatives B, C, and D propose changes to current management. These three alternatives were developed with input collected from the public during scoping, internal BLM sources, and collaboration with the State of Alaska. The alternatives provide a range of choices to meet the BLM’s planning and program management requirements and to resolve planning issues.

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Alternative A

Alternative A continues present management practices and present levels of resource use based on the existing Fortymile Management Framework Plan (BLM 1980), Steese RMP (BLM 1986a), White Mountains RMP (BLM 1986b), Fortymile River Management Plan (BLM 1983a), Birch Creek River Management Plan (BLM 1983b), Beaver Creek River Management Plan (BLM 1983c), and other management decision documents. Other management decision documents include special rules published in the Federal Register (for off-highway vehicle and recreational use) and existing public land orders (PLOs), including the ANCSA 17(d)(1) withdrawals. Wildland fire would be managed consistent with the Alaska Land Use Plan Amendment for Wildland Fire and Fuels Management (BLM 2004b, 2005c).

Key points to Alternative A

Listed below are just a few issues that address the Alternatives proposed by BLM.

The most effective comments include:

Inaccurate or discrepancies in information – New info that would have a bearing on the analysis- Identification of new impacts, alternatives, or mitigation measures – Suggestions for improving management direction.

  • Alaskans are fast losing their ability to access state land for hunting and fishing due to restrictions of motorized vehicles. Alternate A is the least restrictive for traditional motorized access in this huge, important recreation and hunting area
  • Those with limited physical ability need an ATV to be able to harvest winter meat
  • When ANICLA was established in 1980, the agreement was that the “National Interest” would get its 120 million acres, but that Alaska would get unique, special rules to enable a wide array of activities to continue in these vast new units. Alternates B,C &D would remove many of these activities.  ANILCA treats Alaska differently. And that includes ATV’s in some places.
  • Similar restrictions in the Wrangell St Elias to keep ATV’s on “designated trails” resulted in the elimination of ATV use shortly thereafter in many areas that were traditionally used for hunting and fishing.
  • 2/3rds of Alaska is already off limits to Alaskan citizens for access and we do not need further restrictions
  • There are ample supplies of fauna in the 30 million acres of the Eastern Interior land management area. Allowing ATV’s to continue to operate within these areas will have a negligible effect on the fauna
  • The Alaska State Constitution guarantees the resources of Alaska to be used for the maximum benefit of it’s people. Additional access restrictions limit Alaskans access to these important resources which are part of our culture.
  • BLM states in their PUBLIC INVOLVMENT notes that since this project was started in 2008, that they have met with several USER GROUPS.  Which motorized user groups have the met with? There are many interior snowmobile, ATV, and other ORV user groups. After spending millions of dollars on this planning process ,none have been directly  contacted by BLM regarding this plan.
  • Restrictions of ATV’s to “designated trails” (which historically leads to removal of their use altogether) goes far beyond what is needed to solve any specifically identified or perceived problem with their use. We saw this with the NPS issued a blanket closure (later reversed)  of 2 million acres to snowmachines based on  unqualified effect, speculation, and studies on white tail deer in the lower 48.
  • Constricting ATV use to selected “designated trails” may result in increased risk of injury or death by consolidating hunters to a significantly reduced hunting footprint.  The possibility for many  Alaskans  harvest a moose or caribou will also be dramatically reduced with these restrictions.

Alternative B

Alternative B emphasizes protection of resource values. Production of minerals and services would be more constrained than in Alternatives C or D. In many areas, uses would be excluded to protect sensitive resources. The four existing Research Natural Areas (RNAs) would be maintained. Four new Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) would be designated. Measures would be proposed to protect or enhance resource values within these areas. Five eligible river segments would be recommended suitable for designation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Off highway vehicle (OHV) designations would be put in place in all planning subunits. Some areas would be limited to existing or designated trails. Some areas would be closed to summer motorized use. Required Operating Procedures outlined in Appendix A would apply.

Alternative C

Alternative C analyzes a moderate level of protection, use, and enhancement of resources and services. Production of minerals and services would be less constrained than in Alternative B, but more constrained than in Alternative D. In some areas, uses would be excluded to protect sensitive resources. Constraints to protect resources would be less restrictive than under Alternative B. Similar to Alternative B, existing RNAs would be maintained. Only three ACECs would be designated. OHV designations would be put into place in all planning subunits but would be somewhat less restrictive than Alternative B. Some areas would be limited to designated or existing trails. Some areas would be closed to summer motorized use. Overall, Required Operating Procedures outlined in Appendix A would apply.

Alternative D

Alternative D emphasizes management to facilitate resource development. Production of minerals and services would be less constrained than in Alternatives B and C. In some areas, uses would be excluded to protect sensitive resources. Constraints to protect resources would be implemented, but would be less restrictive than under Alternative C. Similar to Alternatives B and C, existing RNAs would be maintained. Only three ACECs would be designated and they are smaller or are subject to fewer restrictions than in other alternatives. OHV designations would be put in place in all planning subunits. Generally, travel and trail restrictions would be less, although some areas or uses would be limited to existing trails, and some areas would be closed to summer motorized use. Required Operating Procedures outlined in Appendix A would apply.

Alternative C represents the mix and variety of actions that the BLM believes best resolves the issues and management concerns in consideration of all values and programs, and is thus considered BLM’s Preferred Alternative.

To submit comments on the plan

Email:  easterninterior@blm.gov
or drop your comments off at:

BLM Fairbanks District Office
Attn: Eastern Interior Draft RMP/EIS
1150 University Ave
Fairbanks, Ak. 99709

Eastern Interior Office Manager: 907-474-2310   (or 2320)

Letter example:

To: BLM

 

Unlike the National Park Service, BLM is supposed to manage for “multi-use”.  It is apparent that the agenda is to greatly restrict or eliminate the use of ATV’s from this important hunting and fishing area that has traditionally been used by Alaskans for harvesting food. ATV’s allow many Alaskans to access the resources where they otherwise could not.  It is for this reason I strongly recommend Alternative A.

 

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