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12:03 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

County forms public lands commission to focus on off-road trails

Supervisor Hildy Angius discusses the formation of the Mohave County Public Lands and Recreation Commission with Ric Swats, a Golden Valley resident who was appointed Monday as one of the commissioners. (Photo by Hubble Ray Smith/Daily Miner)

Supervisor Hildy Angius discusses the formation of the Mohave County Public Lands and Recreation Commission with Ric Swats, a Golden Valley resident who was appointed Monday as one of the commissioners. (Photo by Hubble Ray Smith/Daily Miner)

KINGMAN – Acting rapidly to the contentment of several off-road enthusiasts in the audience, Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday to set up the Mohave County Public Lands and Recreation Commission.

It will consist of two members from each supervisor’s district, along with one Mohave County supervisor and someone from Public Works.

Supervisor Hildy Angius initiated discussion on the commission’s bylaws, asking about a section that says the commission will only make recommendations to the board on the BLM’s travel management plan, which was the force behind forming the commission.

About a dozen members of various off-road riding groups from Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City showed up at a previous board meeting to oppose the BLM’s plan to close more than 1,600 miles of trails in the county.

“It’s very narrow,” Angius said of the bylaws. “They can only speak on the travel plan, and then it has to be put on the agenda.”

County Manager Mike Hendrix said staff from Public Works and County Parks will establish the agenda of what the committee wants to discuss, specifically directed toward the travel management plan, and any decisions to be made would be brought back to the board.

“Like all the other advisory commissions, they come up with the things within their committee. Why can’t this be the same way? It just seems like it’s a bit more bureaucratic,” Angius said.

Board Chairman Gary Watson said county staff was able to draw up the bylaws quickly to focus on the travel management plan. He had no problem with expanding the scope of the commission, but what if someone wants to protect wild burros from getting run over by the four-wheelers? That would cloud the issue, he said.

Angius envisioned the commission for people having a voice in issues that come up from time to time, just to talk about it, but making no decisions.

Supervisors Jean Bishop and Lois Wakimoto were concerned that members of the commission would not want to commit their time to issues outside the trail closure.

Watson said he would go part way with Angius and make the travel plan the “primary” focus of the commission.

“If we expand this, then you have to look at mining interests, ranchers, hikers, environmentalists, all those people should have a seat at the table,” Supervisor Buster Johnson added.

Commissioners shall serve at the “pleasure of the supervisor,” according to the bylaws, allowing for an indefinite term of each commissioner, and will meet on the first Thursday of each month.

Bishop appointed Ric Swats and Don Martin to the commission; Angius appointed Robert Smith with a second commissioner to be determined; and Watson appointed Doug Wisdom, also with a second to come. Wakimoto and Johnson made no appointments.

The board voted for Angius as the supervisor on the commission.