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Field reports: BLM designates conservation lands

PUBLIC LANDS – Conservation got an edge in management considerations on a portion of western Bureau of Land Management areas under an order signed late last year by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Salazar’s order clarifies that the Bureau of Land Management should treat conservation as a top priority in managing the 27-million acre National Landscape Conservation System. BLM also promotes grazing, energy development and tourism on the 245 million acres under its jurisdiction.

Some BLM lands, such as Washington’s Juniper Dunes, already have the strict protections of wilderness designation. But other choice BLM lands are less secure.

The Clinton administration created the NLCS in 2000 to protect and restore nationally significant landscapes, mostly in the West. Congress formally approved the landscape system last year.

The NLCS includes 886 federally recognized areas including national monuments, national conservation areas, wilderness study areas, wild and scenic rivers, conservation lands and national scenic and historic trails, including segments of the Pacific Crest Trail.

In Wyoming, for example, the BLM manages 42 wilderness study areas (575,000 acres), five national historic trails, the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center and one national scenic trail – the Continental Divide Trail. All are considered units of the NLCS.

In Idaho, the BLM manages NLCS units that encompass approximately 3.5 million acres of public land.

Montana’s NLCS lands include the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument and 39 wilderness study areas.

Avalanche clinics set for snowmobilers

WINTER SPORTS – Free avalanche workshops for snowmobilers are being offered in North Idaho by the state Parks and Recreation Department and the Idaho Panhandle National Forests avalanche experts.

The remaining schedule:

• Jan 28-29, in St. Maries.

• Feb. 11-12, based in Bonners Ferry.

The workshops include indoor and outdoor sessions.

Info: (208) 769-1511, parksandrecreation.idaho. gov.

Rich Landers

Aug. 1 drawdown set at Banks Lake

LAKES – Anglers and campers will see new ground at Banks Lake this summer.

Starting Aug. 1, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will lower Banks Lake by 30 feet for maintenance projects.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” said Stephanie Utter at the Bureau’s Ephrata office. “It’s a pretty deep reservoir and it will still have a lot of water in it.”

The lake has had only a few major drawdowns.

The drawdown will allow construction and upgrades for recreational facilities, too.

Columbia Basin Herald