Grazing, energy development, motor vehicle access, shooting areas and wildlife protections are among the issues being confronted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in a resource management planning effort.
The public is invited to workshops in the next two weeks to help the agency develop proposals for managing 445,000 acres in Eastern Washington and the San Juan Islands.
“We’re asking the public to help us determine things like where grazing or energy development can coexist with recreation and where they should be separated or restricted,” said Scott Pavey, BLM’s planning and environmental coordinator in Spokane.
Although some of the planning will be generic, specific areas also will be addressed, he said.
A temporary shooting closure enacted last year on the most heavily used portion of the Fishtrap Lake area is likely to become permanent under the final plan, Pavey said.
“The closure has been pretty well received,” he said. “Once we explained that we weren’t closing the entire area to shooting, people were cooperative. As long as they had other places to go, it seems to work out.”
Protecting sage grouse and sharptail grouse in the Telford area southwest of Davenport might require some motor vehicle restrictions, he said.
Off-road vehicle use also will be scrutinized, especially in some 15,000 acres of BLM land in the Huckleberry Mountains of Stevens County.
The Juniper Dunes area near Pasco and the Saddle Mountains area have designated off-road vehicle riding areas where management can be improved, Pavey said.
The public will be allowed to preview information at the workshops before BLM staff gives and introduction to the process, Pavey said. “Then people will be able to break into groups based on their interests so they can look at maps and alternatives and make their suggestions.”
“All have now are preliminary maps and charts; no proposals have been published. It’s early in the process,” he added, noting that the first round of proposals will be out for public comment sometime this winter.