BLM, Park Service plan June meetings on future of public lands in Strip

Two federal agencies plan meetings in Kingman and elsewhere about managing two national monuments and other public lands in the Arizona Strip.

Federal officials will describe five alternative plans, said Dennis Curtis, manager of the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.

The alternatives range from closing access to dirt roads leading to the monument to paving a road inside it.

A meeting in Kingman is set for 4 to 6 p.m.

June 5 at Mohave Community College, 1971 Jagerson Ave.

The Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service also have scheduled meetings that week in Mesquite, Nev., St.

George, Utah, and Fredonia and Flagstaff.

"What we try to do is provide a wide spectrum of potential land-use decisions and we are trying to be responsive to the public, what they told us in our scoping meetings" that took place in June 2002, said Curtis, a BLM manager based in St.

George.

"We are just kind of mid-course correction here, and after the meetings we'll finalize our alternatives and prepare our (environmental impact statement) and then select the preferred alternative."

The bureau and the park service are working on a management plan for approximately 3 million acres of federal land in the Arizona Strip, including the two national monuments established by former President Bill Clinton in January 2000.

Grand Canyon-Parashant in Mohave County covers 1 million acres and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Coconino County covers 300,000 acres.

Mohave County Supervisor Pete Byers, whose district includes the Arizona Strip, declined to comment on the status of the proposed management plan.

However, he said he plans to travel to the strip May 8 to 11 to look at dirt roads inside Grand Canyon-Parashant that the federal agencies might close.

A newsletter recently issued by both agencies states the Arizona Strip planning team is preparing management alternatives for the draft environmental statement for the two monuments and land administered by the BLM between both monuments.

The agencies plan to issue the draft plan and environmental statement in May 2004, conduct public meetings a month later and release the proposed management plan and final environmental statement in October 2005.

The planning team identified public concerns about access, wilderness, resource protection, livestock grazing and recreation during the scoping phase, according to the newsletter.

The planning team has been studying how to address the following key concerns:

• To what extent can they provide access for recreation, management and commercial uses while protecting resource values, sensitive species and special areas?

• To what extent should the federal agencies manage lands under wilderness values such as solitude? Federal wilderness designation bars the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles and other motor traffic.

• To what extent will they restore ecosystems?

• How should they protect objects in the national monuments.

Further information about the management plan can be obtained by contacting Diana Hawks, planning coordinator, at the BLM, 345 E.

Riverside Drive, St.

George, Utah 84790; (435) 688-3266.

The fax number is (435) 688-3388 and the e-mail address is Arizona_Strip@blm.gov.