BLM TMP's: What do you want?

J.C. Sanders, OHV Enthusiast

The BLM is required by various federal regulations, policies and executive orders to develop Travel Management Plans (TMPs) for all public lands that they manage.

Travel Management Plans are under development in Mohave, La Paz and Yuma counties. In order to develop plans showing all trails that are open for travel they must first develop an inventory of the tracks by hiring a contractor to identify all tracks or signs of trails in a given area.

The contractors identify all marks in the desert including World War II tank tracks, cattle and wildlife paths, foot trails, bicycle paths, duplicate trails going to the same place, and old mine roads. Many of these tracks are short dead-end trails, typically established as a result of mining operations and are no longer used.

There are many tracks that have never been used by off-highway vehicles. The inventory is provided to the public for review and comment to insure trails are not missed. The BLM is required to evaluate the total inventory to determine which trails are currently used by the OHV community.

The draft TMP will show all the trails open that are being utilized and are not dangerous or crossing an environmentally sensitive area. Sometimes duplicate trails to the same location are not shown as open. If the duplicate trail provides a unique riding experience, it is the riders responsibility to let BLM know what that experience is so it can be kept open.

The draft TMP is issued to the public for review and comments. During this review it is the public’s responsibility to identify any of the trails that are not indicated as open that they actually ride and provide appropriate comments to the BLM indicating why they ride the trail. We ride trails for many reasons including scenic, loop ride, favorite site, hunting, and connectivity. The BLM will respond to all positive comments.

Based on the experience in the Lake Havasu City area as well as the Quartzsite area, 99 percent of the trails we ride are kept open for OHV use. It is important for OHV clubs in each area to establish a good working relationship with BLM in order to make sure positive comments are provided to keep the trails they actually ride open. It is also important for OHV enthusiasts to join and support their local OHV club.

Once the TMPs are completed, BLM will sign the trails that are open and provide maps for public use. These maps are essential for safe public recreation and search and rescue. The TMPs are living documents, and if there is a unique trail that was missed during the inventory or review processes, it is possible to have the TMP revised to show that trail as open.