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BLM reverses closure

Posted on: October 1, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: BLM To Overturn Box Canyon Decision, Accept New Public Input

The federal Bureau of Land Management has notified the Town of Wickenburg it intends to overturn its earlier decision to partially close Box Canyon. The agency will instead begin a new planning process for the area incorporating additional technical data and public comment.

The decision was made by BLM’s Phoenix District Manager, Mary D’Aversa, who notified Town officials on Tuesday.

BLM representatives announced the partial closure during a June 16 presentation to the Town Council, eliciting strongly negative reactions from councilmembers. Several Town officials and local residents expressed surprise that such an option was even considered after more than five years of involvement in the BLM’s Wickenburg area trails and natural resources planning process.

The decision called for closing motorized access to the canyon annually from May through September to allow the riparian area to regenerate and improve wildlife habitat, which the BLM alleged was needed in the area.

The Town responded by filing an appeal on July 21 and engaging the services of an environmental consultant to further study the area’s hydrological and biological characteristics. The consultant, Jim Tress of Westland Resources, told the Council last month that he disagrees with the BLM’s decision on a scientific level.

BLM’s reversal of its earlier decision affects only the Box Canyon action, rather than the entire Wickenburg Community Travel Management Plan. No timetable has been set to initiate the new planning process.

“We are excited and encouraged by the BLM’s decision to take a second look at Box Canyon and allow more opportunities for public comment,” said Town Manager Josh Wright. “Wickenburg’s citizens are to be commended for actively voicing their concerns and the Council deserves credit for quickly taking action and assembling a team of experts.”

“We are also thankful to BLM for listening to the Wickenburg community and acknowledging that there’s more research to be done before a decision is enacted,” Wright added.

The Town is still contending with a separate, yet related process involving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which is vetting a proposal to designate much of Arizona, including the Hassayampa River corridor, as critical habitat for the western yellow-billed cuckoo. The Town’s comments on that issue are due October 14.

Information on the Wickenburg Community Trails Master Plan and Travel Management Plan can be found at Wickenburg Community Trails Master Plan - BLM Arizona

T Pacheco

Well-Known Member
So is this a head fake or does the team of experts have clout, and who are they?