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  • Sand Mountain NV

    OFF-ROAD ENTHUSIASTS OUTRAGED WITH NEW
    BLM PLAN FOR SAND MOUNTAIN RECREATION AREA

    Bureauís Emergency Closure Plan Exceeds
    Resource Advisory Council Recommendation

    FALLON, NV (Sep. 9, 2003) Ė Several thousand off-road vehicle enthusiasts who recreate at the popular northern Nevada Sand Mountain Recreation Area feel strongly that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has deceived them.

    According to Jon Crowley, who spearheads the Friends of Sand Mountain, the bureau announced in July that it planned to close selected riding trails within a 1,000-acre area to protect and restore the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly and its habitat, the Kearney Buckwheat plant. Crowley said that the butterfly is not listed as threatened or endangered and the proposed trail closures were in excess of what was needed.

    Subsequently, this past Labor Day weekend, Crowley said the bureau issued new maps outlining more trail closures in an adjacent 2,000-acre riding area without public input or recommendations from the bureauís Resource Advisory Council (RAC).

    "We were very surprised to see the new bureau map that included closing much more acreage than the Resource Advisory Council had recommended," said Crowley. "Since April, we have been discussing ways to protect habitat while curbing trail proliferation within the original 1,000 acres. Now, it appears the bureau wants to keep just a few trails open in a 3,000-acre parcel."

    Crowley said the bureauís plan closes an excessive number of trails, while failing to focus on truly protecting the necessary habitat for the butterfly.

    Crowley was also disappointed that the bureau had not installed any educational signs on the access road as recommended by the RAC such as "Stay on Existing Routes" and "Donít Ride on Vegetation."

    "Local businesses in and around Fallon are very concerned about the loss of revenue due to the closures," said Rick Gray of the Fallon Convention & Tourism Bureau. "Less riding areas could cause enthusiasts to go elsewhere."

    Gray said that this yearís Labor Day weekend turnout was much lower than previous years and local businesses are voicing concerns that BLM actions have affected the number of people visiting the Sand Mountain Recreation Area.

    "Creating habitat in areas already closed to vehicles should be a top priority in any sensible approach to managing Sand Mountain," said Roy Denner, president of the nationwide Off-Road Business Association. "It really makes one wonder why the bureau would rather see a forest of closed signs instead of creating and maintaining a healthy population of host plants for the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly."

    Denner also explained that the Nevada Division of Forestry and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service earlier agreed to assist with a program to learn how to grow Kearney Buckwheat; however, he said the bureau has been slow to take the lead on the project.

    Crowley said his organization and other OHV organizations are awaiting a reply from the bureau to a recent letter that outlines their access and management concerns. "They are dedicated to working with the bureau on a sensible approach to protecting sensitive habitat, while maintaining quality OHV opportunities," Crowley said.

    ###

    Friends of Sand Mountain is a non-profit corporation comprised of citizens and business representatives who enjoy the benefits of public access and usage of the Sand Mountain Recreation Area. Their goal is to keep Sand Mountain clean, safe and open for future generations. More information can be found on the Friends of Sand Mountain website at www.SandMountain-NV.org.
    Kirk
    1997 Jeep Wrangler
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