The Bureau of Land Management today released their Draft Resource Area Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement that will impact the enjoyment of the area by tens of thousands of visitors and their families from California, Arizona, Nevada and across the country. The plan’s severe restrictions on access to major portions of the dunes is causing grave concerns among members of the American Sand Association.
Mark Harms, Legal Affairs Committee Chairman of the American Sand Association, reacted to the plan’s release by saying “this adaptive plan concept is just a veiled attempt at limiting access and a cave-in to the people who are wanting to keep the public off their land.” Any limits on access could have a significant negative economic effect on the surrounding communities of Brawley, El Centro and Yuma as well as other off-road related businesses in the Southern California and Arizona areas.
Harms continued, “Typically one side or the other is either satisfied or dissatisfied with these public land issues. The irony about all of this is that the access groups, such as the ASA, are initially as upset with this draft as the closure groups. This seems like some perverted sense of balance on the part of the BLM.”
Because little information had been made public until today, the plan had been the subject of much speculation in the press and by environmentalists over the past several months. Published reports have said that as many as 15,000 acres of the 49,310 acres that were temporarily closed to OHV use will be re-opened without restrictions and the rest placed under a limited access, permit-based plan. “We certainly would not be satisfied with anything short of 100% re-opening of the closures, without restrictions,” says Greg Gorman, ASA Media Relations Director. “We will be formulating our input on the plan during the public comment period and I guarantee you we will have plenty to say.”