The Prineville District of the Bureau of Land Management said Tuesday it has developed a draft wilderness management plan and environmental assessment for the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, located about 14 miles east of Bend, north of Highway 20. The plan will be available for public review and comment until Sept. 30.
BLM policy requires that a wilderness plan be completed for each designated wilderness. The plan provides guidance for preserving and enhancing wilderness values while offering opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, as well as managing other land uses and activities.
The EA analyzes four alternatives that range from a No Action (continue present management) Alternative to a "Human Activity Least Present" Alternative.
The alternatives address issues such as the location and design of trailheads, the number and placement of trails, the role of Special Recreation Permits, and limitations or requirements for types of uses such as rock climbing, hiking with dogs, or hiking with stock.
BLM welcomes comments, especially information the EA should take into account, additional ideas, or other alternatives that should be considered.
The EA and draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) are available at http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/prineville/plans/index.php. If you would like a hard copy, contact the Prineville BLM or stop by the office during business hours.
Rather than voting for or against a specific alternative, the BLM asks that you tell them why you like or don't like an alternative, or what you'd like to change, so they can be more responsive to concerns. Send your comments postmarked by Sept. 30, 2013, to one of the following addresses:
· US Mail: Prineville BLM, 3050 NE Third Street., Prineville, OR 97754
· Email: BLM_OR_PR_FRONT_DESK@ blm.gov (attn: Badlands EA in the subject line)
· FAX: (541) 416-6798
The Oregon Natural Desert Association, which lobbied for and now celebrates creation of the Badlands Wilderness Area, issued this initial statement Tuesday on the draft management plan/EA:
"ONDA and many others in Central Oregon cherish the Badlands Wilderness and have worked for decades to protect the area so we're very pleased to see progress on the Wilderness Management Plan.
"Our first impression of the draft plan is that the BLM has done a good job of gathering public input, identifying key issues and proposing actions that will result in an effective plan for managing the Badlands Wilderness.
"The plan is an opportunity to restore and preserve the natural character of the area while maintaining and improving recreation opportunities.
"Finding ways to rehabilitate historical abuses in the Badlands is important and it is equally important to do so in ways that retain the wild character of the area.
"As popularity of the Badlands continues to increase, improving and clarifying access points to minimize impacts from trail users are important steps to reduce any impacts of recreation and crowding in the wilderness area.
"It is gratifying to see the wilderness protection process unfolding in a way that includes public input from the many people who love the Badlands. ONDA will continue our review of the draft Wilderness Management Plan and will provide detailed comments to the BLM to assist in finalizing the plan. "