Featured photo by Frazer Haney
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun the process of developing a land use plan for Mojave Trails National Monument and is seeking public input. The development of this plan will be no small feat given the size of the Monument (1.6 million acres) and the abundance of resources and values that exist on those lands.
President Barack Obama designated Mojave Trails National Monument on February 12, 2016. Together with surrounding protected public lands, the newly protected lands helped to create the world’s second-largest desert preserve.
Mojave Trails National Monument (Monument) stretches from the Cady Mountains to the City of Needles, California. Contained within this vast landscape are stunning viewsheds, rich archaeological and historical sites, unparalleled recreational opportunities, and iconic desert plants and animals. The new Monument is the connective tissue that links the Mojave National Preserve with Joshua Tree National Park, connecting and protecting wildlife corridors and habitat for species such as the imperiled desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep. The Monument also holds the ancestral homelands of several Tribes who continue to value and use these landscapes today.
The BLM is required by law to develop plans that it will use to manage its lands. The BLM calls these plans Resource Management Plans (RMPs). These RMPs spell out desired goals and objectives for the landscape that will be achieved through its implementation. Additionally, RMPs provide the agency with the guidance and actions to further those objectives and goals. The objectives and goals, included in the plan, aim to conserve and protect important values and resources while balancing the myriad of uses on its lands. These RMPs are often in place for decades before they are updated or modified in any significant way.
BLM is asking for input from members of the public, as it starts to develop an RMP for the Monument. This provides all members of the public an important opportunity to help BLM identify issues, concerns, potential impacts, and mitigation measures that will guide BLM in the development of the RMP for the Monument. BLM’s paramount goal in developing this RMP for the Monument is to protect and conserve the Monument’s cultural, scientific, and historical resources and values. While that may seem rather simplistic, it’s important to remind BLM of this fact, so that the agency doesn’t get bogged down in the minutia while developing this plan and stray from its most important and overarching goal. The deadline to submit comments is July 5, 2023.
We have provided a “laundry list” of suggested comments in the template comment letter. They cover a wide array of issues and concerns. Please pick and choose the items that you would like to include in your letter. In addition, we encourage you to raise other issues that are important to you. This is your opportunity to let the BLM know what you love about Mojave Trails National Monument, and what you’d like them to do to manage the places, resources, and values that you consider most important in the Monument.
If you’re not familiar with some of the items contained in the list of suggested comments, here are some additional definitions and explanations:
- Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC): a BLM land designation that calls for special management attention to protect and conserve important historical, cultural, and scenic values, or fish and wildlife or other natural resources.
- Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP): a BLM landscape-level land use plan that was finalized in 2016 to balance conservation, renewable energy development, and recreation in the California Desert.
- Desert Training Center: a U.S. Army training facility and maneuver area that was in operation from 1942 through 1944 in the deserts of California and other nearby states to train U.S. troops for battle in World War II.
- Lands with Wilderness Characteristics: areas that have been inventoried by BLM or the public and found to meet Congress’ definition of wilderness from the 1964 Wilderness Act. These lands are roadless and possess naturalness and outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation.
- Riparian: relating to or situated on the banks of a river or stream; related to wetlands adjacent to a river or stream.
- Visual Resource Management: BLM has developed the Visual Resource Management (VRM) class objectives to establish the desired future conditions of visual resources on their lands. Allowable uses and management actions are then planned in accordance with these desired future conditions. The VRM classes set VRM objectives for lands in each class and describe the limits of allowable visual change in the landscape character with which proposed management activities must comply.
- Wildlife habitat linkages (or corridors): Connections between otherwise isolated areas of habitat that may (1) provide for daily and seasonal movements of animals; (2) facilitate dispersal, gene flow, and rescue effects (for animals or plants); (3) allow for range shifts of species; and (4) maintain flows of ecological processes (e.g., fire, wind, sediments, water).