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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Protests heard by those opposing BLM road closures

As reported in previous RV Boondocking News posts, the Forest Service and BLM seem intent on closing roads formerly open to recreationists, including boondockers. At a recent meeting held in the Lake Havasu City supervisor auditorium, they got an ear full as several dozen off-road enthusiasts packed in to protest a federal plan to close some roads to off-road vehicles in and around the Lake Havasu City Arizona area.

The county supervisors heard from a number of people who oppose the Bureau of Land Management’s travel management program that would close off some of the desert roads to off-road, four-wheel-drive vehicles such a motorcycles, quads and Jeeps.

Joe Caldwell, of the Havasu 4 Wheelers, said closing down the roads will cause an economic impact to the county with four-wheelers, as well as RVers who don't tow jeeps and other 4-wheelers behind their rigs, buying gas, food, vehicle parts and other expenses that bring much needed revenue to the county. They claimed that closing some of the roads would kill some local businesses.

One speaker said that the economic impact to Mohave County from off-roaders was about $182 million in 2003 and estimates today would put it close to a $1 billion.

Bruce Speirs, the president of Havasu 4 Wheelers, said gold prospectors who use four-wheel-drive vehicles in the desert also will be impacted. Others spoke of the incomplete and insufficient maps used by BLM to mark the roads and that BLM’s website is not user friendly. Many roads are not clearly marked nor have posted signs. Though most of those in attendence were 4-wheelers, the road closures would also impact RVers who just enjoyed boondocking out in the desert.

Several speakers said the four-wheel drive clubs and groups assist BLM in cleaning up the desert and there are only a handful of people who trash the desert. They also said BLM should go after those who destroy desert roads and not close the roads off to law abiding off-road clubs.

Bill Strittmatter, of the Bullhead 4 Wheelers, said people from other states, coming from as far as Michigan, want to travel to the county to experience the desert. He also said disabled people need motorized vehicles to visit the desert.

District 3 Sup. Buster Johnson motioned to direct the county staff to have the governor’s office and the state’s representatives sit down with BLM and signal the county’s support not to close off any roads.

At the last board meeting, the BLM presented to the board the travel management program, which deals with off-road vehicles on public lands. The BLM plans to separate the lands into open areas for all types of vehicles, limited areas for certain vehicles at certain times and closed areas, or lands closed to all motorized vehicles.

BLM plans to shut down about 25 percent of the 1,140 routes to motorized vehicles on BLM land south of Interstate 40 near Lake Havasu City. That would be about 243 miles of the 730 miles that would be closed to vehicles.

As usually is the case when govenment agencies make plans, if the public does not react, the plans go through, whether or not new rules or plans would hurt those affacted. It is therefore important that all of us become and stay aware of government actions that will affect our RVing and boondocking lifestyle, and--as proven by the 4-wheelers who spoke up--make our opinions known and very possibly affecting those government plans and decisions.
Check out Bob Difley's ebooks, SNOWBIRD GUIDE and BOONDOCKING, at

1 comment:

  1. Just a note to clarify the BLM's misleading closure percentages. The 25% is in mileage, the fact is, they are recommending the closure of over 75% of the 1140 routes.