Road access to national monument on the minds of recreationists

Access to a national monument in the Arizona Strip was on the minds of some people who attended a meeting hosted by two federal agencies Thursday at the North Campus of Kingman High School.

The Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service are conducting meetings throughout the state about managing approximately 3 million acres of federal land in the strip.

That includes the 1 million-acre Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Mohave County and 300,000-acre Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Coconino County.

"One of the big issues we are going to deal with is access and how we are going to manage it," said Dennis Curtis, manager of Grand Canyon-Parashant for the BLM office in St.

George, Utah.

Dolan Springs resident Sue Baughman of the Mohave County Trails Association said she had simple advice for the BLM, which administers 80 percent of Grand Canyon-Parashant: "Keep every road open, and we don't need more wilderness in the Arizona Strip."

Baughman said the BLM and Park Service should keep the Grand Canyon-Parashant primitive and existing unpaved roads open.

Former President Bill Clinton established both monuments in January 2000.

Kenneth Blevins, a 32-year Kingman resident who is retired from the Kingman Fire Department, had similar sentiments.

A member of two clubs of all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts, he said he wants to enjoy the national monument by getting there using an ATV.

He said he cannot hike because he has had three heart attacks.

"I like to see beauty," Blevins said.

Grand Canyon-Parashant offers much in the way of beauty, said Kim Crumbo, Grand Canyon regional coordinator for the Arizona Wilderness Coalition.

He is retired from the Park Service and lives in Grand Canyon National Park.

"I think it is an absolutely wonderful place," Crumbo said.

"In terms of the cliffs, it is Grand Canyon scale.

It is just gorgeous."

Curtis said the planning process, which will take three years, will determine which roads to keep open and maintain or close.

Curtis described Grand-Canyon Parashant as a "different kind" of national monument that is miles from paved roads and lacks campgrounds, services and drinking water.

"It's hard to get to," he said.

"It's an hour and a half on dirt roads just to get to the edge.

The roads are quite rough.

Many people get flat tires or lost because they can't read a map or don't read one."

The northwestern boundary of the monument is 18 miles southeast of Mesquite, Nev., said Roger Taylor, manager of the St.

George BLM office.

Scenic, in Mohave County, is a similar distance.

The creation of the monument sparked opposition from the Republican leadership in Mohave County and ranchers who feared that the designation would hurt economic development such as grazing and mining.

The federal government has allowed ranching to continue.

During a three-month "scoping" period, which concludes July 31, BLM and Park Service officials are determining what issues the public wants considered in management of the land.

The three-hour meeting at Kingman High School, which started at 4 p.m., drew 30 participants as of 5:20 p.m., said Diana Hawks, Arizona Strip planner for the BLM.

Attendance at other meetings amounted to 17 people in Beaver Dam, 36 in Phoenix, 47 in St.

George and 170 to 180 in Flagstaff.