Elko Recreation Study: Wilderness Study Areas

Little Humboldt River Wilderness Study Area. Photo by Brian Beffort

Elko residents, you are invited to share your opinions about the benefits of recreating in Wilderness Study Areas in Elko County. Your input will help the Bureau of Land Management as it prepares to update the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the BLM Elko District. The Great Basin Institute (GBI) will be holding a series of informal discussions in August and September to give people a chance to express their desires and expectations regarding Wilderness Study Area management in the future.

The discussions will be held in the following towns on the following dates and times. GBI will share information from these meetings with the BLM in preparation for the BLM’s upcoming Elko District Resource Management Plan revision. The information shared will help the BLM better anticipate the needs and expectations of public land users in the RMP.

Meetings are limited to 20 participants. Please RSVP to Maggie Corbari at mcorbari@blm.gov or (775) 753-0336 the Monday before the meeting date.

IF YOU CANNOT MAKE ONE OF THESE MEETINGS, PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BY LEAVING A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG (more below).

Current scheduled meetings are:

August 12: West Wendover Branch Library from 5:30 – 8 p.m. Thank you to everyone who participated.

August 20: Carlin Branch Library from 5:30 – 8 p.m.

September 9: Wells Fire Hall (next door to the Town Hall), from from 5:30 – 8 p.m.

September 16: Elko Pizza Barn, from from 5:30 – 8 p.m.

If you are unable to attend one of these meetings, please answer the questions below in a comment to this blog.

ELKO COUNTY WILDERNESS STUDY AREAS:

Badlands
Bluebell
Cedar Ridge
Goshute Peak
Little Humboldt River
South Fork Owyhee River
South Pequop
Owyhee Canyon
Red Spring
Rough Hills

What sort of activities do you enjoy in Elko’s WSAs? (Some examples might include hiking, snowshoeing, backpacking, bird-watching, hunting, fishing, driving boundary roads and existing ways, etc.)

What kind of experiences do you value when visiting WSAs in Elko County? (Possible answers might include being away from crowds, computers, email, and telephones; spending time with my family, teaching my children outdoor skills, good exercise, a chance to calm down and gain some perspective, etc.)

What sort of benefits do you, your friends, family and community receive from your activities in these WSAs? (some examples might include better health, fun with my friends and family, encounters with wildlife, beautiful photography, lower blood pressure, a chance to surround yourself with nature, better quality of life for me and my community)

(These possible answers are intended to clarify the question and give you ideas. Many more answers are possible!)

A few notes about this project and Wilderness Study Areas in general: 

What are Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs)?

In 1976, Congress passed the Federal Land and Policy Management Act (FLPMA—pronounced “Flipma”), requiring the Bureau of Land Management to inventory all lands for suitability as Wilderness. There are currently 72 Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in Nevada, which the agency feels meet the criteria for wilderness established by the Wilderness Act. Because only Congress can designate wilderness, the BLM must preserve the wilderness character in WSAs until Congress decides whether to designate them as wilderness or release them for other uses.

The BLM has no authority to either designate wilderness or release WSAs for other uses. The agency’s job is simply to implement the laws created by Congress. The BLM has no authority to designate wilderness or release WSAs for other uses. The agency’s job is simply to implement the laws created by Congress.

The information gathered here is not related to any legislative effort and will not be used to change the status of WSAs in Elko County, but rather to help the BLM best manage them until Congress decides.

South Pequop Wilderness Study Area. Photo by Brian Beffort

WSAs as multiple use

‘Multiple use’ is defined in FLPMA Act as “management of the public lands and their various resource values so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people.”

Additionally, wilderness and wilderness study areas are “multiple use” according to the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1960 and the National Forest Management Act. The multiple uses are watersheds, recreation, wildlife and fish, range and forests.

Resource Management Plans

FLPMA also requires the BLM districts to write Resource Management Plans, which will determine how all public lands managed by the agency within that district are to be managed. In general, RMPs are revised every 20-30 years. The Elko RMP was last revised in 1986.

Thanks for tuning in. Please share your comments with us. If you have any questions about this study, please contact Zach Pratt at the BLM Tuscarora Field office: zpratt@blm.gov; 775-753-0212, or Brian Beffort at GBI: bbeffort@thegreatbasininstitute.org; 775-674-5494.

2 Comments

  • Thad S. Ballard says:

    The questions appear to be biased to find only the benefits of Wilderness Study Areas. Wilderness Study Areas are nothing more than a tool to further and unnecessarily restrict full and complete access and use of lands which should be managed under the least restrictive multiple-use practices. The public is denied the benefits of these lands when supposed studies are continued in perpetuity. “Delay” has exactly the same impact as “deny”. Discontinuation of Wilderness Study Areas and resumption of true multiple use management should be the primary recommendation made to Congress as a result of these meetings.

    Where is the lawful authority to limit public participation to 20?

  • Wanda Beck says:

    I am against Wilderness Study areas, and I do not recreate in the ones that exist. I do not like signs in the middle of the road saying that I cannot ride or drive someplace when I am out and about. I see on your website that Elko County has 10 WSA’s, and through further research discovered that this encompasses more than 40,000 acres. Add in the Jarbidge and Ruby Wilderness Areas and the Wildlife Refuge and that locks many people out of over 500,000 acres in Elko County alone. Add in the bad management of these areas by the government powers that are in control and you have 500,000 acres of beautiful rocks, because they are the only thing that doesn’t die or burn.
    And I agree with the gentleman who commented before me, how can you limit a public meeting to 20 people?

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