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IN MY VIEW
Op-Ed to The Bulletin
by Mollie Chaudet
November 11, 2003
Badlands part of recreation management area
In early October, the draft Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan was published. News releases summarized some of the key points of the BLM's "preferred alternative" - one of seven alternative ways of managing a complex variety of public land issues on the approximately 400,000 acres of BLM administered lands between Bend, Sisters, Madras, Prineville, Millican and La Pine. Many aspects of this preferred alternative are the results of an intensive consensus-building process between local citizens and government. However, that bigger picture is in danger of getting lost amidst the passions and commentaries about the proposed management of the Badlands.
The preferred alternative proposes designating most of the BLM-administered lands in Deschutes County as the High Desert Special Recreation Management Area. This designation highlights the importance of these public lands - including the Badlands, Steelhead Falls, Millican OHV area, Cline Buttes, Horse Ridge and other areas - to the increasingly diverse recreational community in Central Oregon.
Designating the Badlands for nonmotorized use is part of a larger management strategy to provide a balance of separated and mixed recreational uses across the planning area. The strategy includes designating areas of BLM administered lands to receive different levels of emphasis for motorized and nonmotorized recreation uses. In the preferred alternative, approximately 22 percent of the total planning area would have a "nonmotorized exclusive" management emphasis - meaning none or only very limited motorized use in the area. Another 21 percent would be managed for motorized use on roads, and only nonmotorized use on trail systems in that area. Approximately 45 percent of the area would be managed primarily for motorized use on both roads and trail systems. The preferred alternative would also allow future expansion of year-round trail opportunities in the North Millican and Millican Plateau portions of the Millican OHV area, as well as for future motorized trail development in other parts of the planning area.
Over the past several months, many opinions have been expressed about what are or should be the BLM's objectives for proposing to close the Badlands Wilderness Study Area to motorized use. To truly understand these objectives and the difficult tradeoffs associated with managing your public lands means looking beyond the 32,200 acres of this one special place to the 400,000 acres of public lands included in the Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan and deciding what you think represents a reasonable balance of uses.
There will be four informational meetings held in November to offer people an opportunity to learn more about the details of the Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan, and to talk with the resource specialists and others that worked on developing the alternatives considered in the Plan.
Copies of the draft plan are currently available for public review and comment at the BLM District Office in Prineville, the Deschutes National Forest Supervisor's Office in Bend, the Deschutes Public Library branches in La Pine, Bend, Sisters and Redmond; at the BLM State Office in Portland and on the Prineville BLM website at: http://www.or.blm.gov/Prineville/Deschutes_RMP/Home.htm. Comment forms and project maps are also available on the website. The 90-day public comment period for the draft plan ends on Jan.15, 2004.
A series of informational public meetings will be held in conjunction with the release of the draft EIS (see below). The meetings allow additional opportunities for public review, comment and questions.
November 12, 7-9 p.m. (Wednesday), La Pine Middle School cafeteria, 16360 First Street, La Pine
November 18, 7-9 p.m. (Tuesday), Carey Foster Hall, 590 SE ,Lynn Blvd., Prineville
November 19, 7-9 p.m. (Wednesday) Redmond High School commons, 675 SW Rimrock Way Redmond
November 20, 7-9 p.m. (Thursday), Highland (Kenwood) Elementary School, 701 NW Newport Ave., Bend
For more information on the Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan, visit our website at http://www.or.blm.gov/Prineville/Deschutes_RMP/Home.htm or contact Mollie Chaudet, Bureau of Land Management, Prineville District Office, 3050 NE Third St., Prineville, OR 97754 at 541-416-6872.
Note: Mollie Chaudet is project manager of the BLM's Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan.
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