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9:19 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

Residents air views on management plans for Arizona Strip lands

Keeping roads open were among views expressed by area residents Thursday night about management alternatives for federal land in the Arizona Strip.

Officials from the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service listened to comments and answered questions during a meeting at the Kingman campus of Mohave Community College.

"You eliminate access for up to 80 percent of the people (with the alternatives)," Kingman resident Floyd Willet said.

"You can't walk through the region if you don't have a vehicle or horse, so think of the handicapped."

Willet said he favors the current management strategy for the region.

The federal managers were on hand to present four other alternatives, which were drawn up after public meetings last year.

They had a room filled with topographical maps of the region, which is divided into three sections: the Grand Canyon-Parshant National Monument in Mohave County, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Coconino County, and federal land in between.

The BLM manages 2.8 million acres of the region, while the park service owns 200,000 acres.

During a series of scoping meetings last year, the two agencies listened to issues raised by residents within and surrounding the region.

Officials then developed four alternative concepts along with a "no-action" alternative.

"We're here today to see if we've adequately covered the concerns and issues brought up last year and whether we've developed a reasonable range of alternatives," the BLM's Roger Taylor said.

Taylor is manager of the Arizona Strip field office in St.

George, Utah.

"Based on input we get from these five meetings we'll refine the alternatives and start the analysis process," he said.

"By late fall we should have an in-house draft for review and we hope to have approval to print a draft plan and mail it to all concerned early next year."

Briefly summarized:

• Alternative A provides for the fewest miles of open roads and least amount of land open to multiple use, and recommends protection for all lands with wilderness characteristics; less reliance on "hands-on" approaches to ecosystem restoration; the least-intrusive methods of resource management; and more primitive recreational opportunities.

• Alternative B opens more roads and trails than Alternative A and recommends protection for vast acreage with wilderness characteristics while considering other values of competing resources and uses; and recommends hands-on ecosystem restoration and scientific research.

• Alternative C allows moderate amounts of open roads and trails with greater access for restoration and research; recommends protection for moderate acreage of lands with wilderness characteristics while considering other values of competing resources and uses; and emphasizes hands-on restoration and scientific research.

• Alternative D permits the most miles of open roads and trails, larger amounts of land open to multiple use, more hands-on restoration, more active resource management practices and the widest variety of recreational opportunities.

"D is the alternative we favor," Mohave Sportsman Club president Jim Jett said.

"There's a lot of water for grazing to maintain.

There may be two or three trails to one water tank source where only one is needed."

"Other entities want to totally close the area off, which is ludicrous," Jett said.

Tom Blum, another Kingman resident, favors the no-action alternative.

"Keep ranchers on the land to keep waters upgraded for stock and wildlife," Blum said.

"It contains some of the remotest country in Arizona, and people don't go up there on a whim.

I'd like to see roads maintained as they are at present, but don't close any of the roads or areas."

A total of 25 people had signed the attendance sheet 50 minutes into the two-hour open house.

Taylor said attendance was good at similar open houses with 30 people in Mesquite, Nev., on Monday, 85 in St.

George on Tuesday and 40 in Fredonia in Coconino County on Wednesday.

"People have been pretty pleased with the range of alternatives laid out," Taylor said.

"The two principal issues being focused on are access roads and the question of wilderness.

"The Arizona Wilderness Coalition did an inventory of the monuments and territory between and presented maps to us of what they feel is wilderness," he said.

Taylor said one alternative would be adapted for each of the national monuments and for the federal land between them.

Another open house tonight at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff will end the weeklong series.