GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
Roughly every 20 years the Grand Junction Bureau of Land Management releases a Resource Management Plan (RPM). This month they released the RPM draft, with four alternatives.
Dave Grossman, coordinator for the Grand Valley Trails Alliance, said, "They're trying to balance all the different factors in public lands, so it's not just recreation, [there's] cultural issues, oil and gas, grazing, water issues."
The BLM has a preferred option, alternative B, but some say it has serious implications.
Brandon Siegfried, a public lands access advocate, said, "Currently we have about 3,300 miles of motorized access in the area, that'll be reduced to about 1,100, we're looking at about a 66 percent reduction. We enjoy 12,500 acres of designated for OHV, motorcycles, jeeps, trucks. That'll be reduced to 5,400 acres."
Steve Chapel, president of the Western Slope ATV Association said, "We have pinpointed three routes in particular that are set to be closed that are just not acceptable."
"I see the direction that things are going nationally on our public lands and it scares me," said Siegfried.
Sigfried says one of the many closures includes the Whitewater Hills Trail Head. A portion of intensive use land at 27 1/4 Road could also face closure.
Others say that closing off some land isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"Travel is going to be restricted to designated routes, so there's still going to be wonderful recreation opportunities, you're just not going to be able to drive anywhere you want to on a whim, and I think that's a good thing for public lands," Grossman said.
The next step is for the public to get involved.
"Some people are going to be sad about some of the trails that are currently proposed to be closed, and if they are, this is their opportunity to say 'hey I love this trail', I want to make sure that it stays open," said Grossman.
"They also need to express themselves to the Mesa County Commissioners. If the Mesa County Commissioners get pressure from the public they can in turn put pressure on the BLM," said Chapel.
If the public takes advantage of 90-day window to comment, a battle for public lands could be avoided down the line.
For more information on commenting and to read the RPM in full, head to the Grand Valley Trails Alliance page here