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BLM Proposes to Complete Route Designation for Furnace Creek Road

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avatar BLM Proposes to Complete Route Designation for Furnace Creek Road
June 29, 2011 01:18PM
The Bureau of Land Management is seeking comments from the public as it considers an appropriate vehicle route designation for Furnace Creek Road in Mono County.

The BLM will conduct an environmental analysis to determine the appropriate designation of the off-highway vehicle route that leads to the recently designated White Mountains Wilderness. In 2009, Congress passed legislation designating the wilderness, and closed 8.5 miles of the Furnace Creek vehicle route on the Inyo National Forest to vehicles. That left about two miles of the route undesignated on BLM land within a narrow 60’ wide non-wilderness corridor.

The original OHV route in the Furnace Creek corridor was washed out by floods in 1982. However, vehicles continued to access the corridor on < routes and the BLM and U. S. Forest Service closed the area to this use in 2003 because it was causing impacts to riparian habitat and water quality. The BLM has been trying to address damage to riparian resources and wilderness characteristics through a redesign of a suitable route. The wilderness designation limits engineering changes to the road to within a 60-foot non-wilderness corridor.

“The corridor is not wide enough to accommodate the engineering provisions necessary to mitigate vehicle damage to the stream and riparian area,” said Hector Villalobos, Field Manager for BLM’s Ridgecrest Field Office. “Essentially, the wilderness designation changed Furnace Creek Road from a substantial through-route to upper destinations on the Forest to a short, primitive access route to a wilderness trailhead at the BLM-Forest Service boundary. This new analysis will help us determine what our options are now for managing what remains of the route.”

The initial range of alternatives and a map can be viewed at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest.html

This announcement initiates a 30-day public scoping period on the final disposition of the Furnace Creek vehicle route. Upon completion of this new EA, the BLM will hold a 30-day public comment period before issuing a decision regarding designation of the Furnace Creek road.

For further information contact: Marty Dickes, ORP/Wilderness Coordinator, Ridgecrest Field Office (760)-384-5444.
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