Another Closure-Surprise Canyon near Death Valley


Mar 20, 2001
Another loss of a dirt road near Death Valley.......Surprise Canyon.

--------------------------------------DEPARTMENT OF
THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management[CA-650-01-1220-JG-064B]Closure Order
for Motorized Vehicle Use, Surprise Canyon Area of Critical Environmental
Concern BLM Route P71, Panamint Mountains, Inyo County, CAAGENCY: Bureau of
Land Management, United States Department of the Interior.ACTION: Notice of
vehicle closure on BLM Route P71 in the Surprise canyon area of critical
environmental concern, Panamint Mountains in Inyo County,

----SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that BLM Route P71 is closed to motorized
vehicle use within the Surprise Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern
(ACEC).Order: The public lands from a point located in the vicinity of Chris
Wicht Camp approximately four miles east of the intersection of BLM Route P71
and the Indian Ranch/Wingate Road to the boundary of Death Valley National
Park within the Surprise Canyon ACEC is hereby closed to all motorized
vehicle use. No person may use, drive, transport, park, let stand, or have
charge or control over any motorized vehicle in the area located east of the
closure signs and the BLM locked gate. Exemptions to this order may be
granted to law enforcement and other emergency vehicles in the course of
official duties. Exemptions to this order may be granted to the holders of
private property in the vicinity of Panamint City in Death Valley National
Park for reasonable access after receiving a written agreement and a key from
the Ridgecrest Field Office Manager.EFFECTIVE DATE: This closure is effective
upon publication in the Federal Register and will remain in effect until
rescinded by the authorizing official which will occur when a final decision
on the disposition of the road will be made after the National Environmental
Policy Act and California Desert Conservation Area Plan amendment processes
are completed. BLM will implement the proposed action effective the date of
publication in the Federal Register, without prior notice and opportunity for
public comment, because of the imminent need for regulatory authority to
prevent illegal/unauthorized vehicle intrusion into the Surprise Canyon
Wilderness and potential risk to aquatic/riparian resources.FOR FURTHER
INFORMATION CONTACT: Field Office Manager, Bureau of Land Management,
Ridgecrest Field Office, 300 South Richmond Road, Ridgecrest CA 93555, (760)
384-5405.SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In March 16, 2000, the Center for
Biological Diversity, et al. (Center) filed for injunctive relief in U.S.
District Court, Northern District of California (Court) against the Bureau of
Land Management (BLM) to immediately prohibit all grazing activities that may
affect listed species. The Center alleges the BLM was in violation of section
7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to enter into formal
consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on the effects of
adoption of the California Desert Conservation Area Plan (CDCA Plan), as
amended, upon threatened and endangered species. On August 25, 2000, the BLM
acknowledged through a court stipulation that activities authorized,
permitted, or allowed under the CDCA Plan may adversely affect threatened and
endangered species, and that the BLM is required to consult with the FWS to
insure that adoption and implementation of the CDCA Plan is not likely to
jeopardize the continued existence of threatened and endangered species or to
result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat of
listed species.Although BLM has received biological opinions on selected
activities, consultation on the overall CDCA Plan is necessary to address the
cumulative effects of all the activities authorized by the CDCA Plan.
Consultation on an overall plan is complex and the completion date uncertain.
Absent consultation on the entire plan, the impacts of individual activities,
when added together with the impacts of other activities in the desert, are
not known. The BLM entered into negotiations with plaintiffs regarding
interim actions to be taken to provide protection for endangered and
threatened species pending completion of consultation on the plan. Agreement
on these interim actions avoided litigation of plaintiffs´ request for
injunctive relief and the threat of an injunction prohibiting all activities
authorized under the plan. These interim agreements allowed BLM to continue
appropriate levels of activity throughout the planning area during the
lengthy consultation process while providing protection to the desert
tortoise and other listed species in the short term. By taking interim
actions as allowed under 43 CFR 8364.1, BLM contributes to the conservation
of the endangered and threatened species in accordance with 7 (a)(1) of the
ESA. BLM also avoids making any irreversible or irretrievable commitment of
resources which would foreclose any reasonable and prudent alternatives which
might be required as a result of the consultation on the CDCA Plan in
accordance with 7(d) for the ESA. In January 2001, the parties signed the
Stipulation and Proposed Order concerning All Further Injunctive Relief.This
closure order is issued to provide interim protection of riparian habitat,
water quality, sensitive wildlife resources, and wilderness values within the
Surprise Canyon ACEC until such a time when the BLM completes a thorough
review and analysis of various methods of access in Surprise Canyon and
complies with the processes required by the National Environmental Policy Act
and the California Desert Conservation Area Plan. This interim closure will
allow BLM to properly evaluate and arrive at a final decision on
environmentally acceptable methods of access in Surprise Canyon while
protecting the canyon from further impact caused by the operation of
off-[[Page 29164]]highway vehicles. Concerns over the effects of off-highway
vehicle use in Surprise Canyon on environmental quality and natural resources
have been raised in a lawsuit filed against the BLM, and these concerns need
to be addressed through the processes required by the National Environmental
Policy Act and the California Desert Conservation Area Plan.The canyon
riparian zone currently does not meet the BLM´s minimum standards for a
properly functioning riparian system due to soil erosion and streambed
alterations caused by off-highway vehicle use. The Surprise Canyon ACEC
supports several California BLM and California State sensitive plant and
animal species that are dependant on a properly functioning riparian
system.The canyon will remain open for human use that does not entail the use
of a motorized vehicle within the area closed by this order. Maps showing the
affected area are available by contacting the Ridgecrest Field Office,
California Desert Conservation Area, Ridgecrest, CA. A gate will be erected
at the closure points and the affected area will be posted with public
notices and standard motorized vehicle closure signs. The BLM will issue a
final decision on allowable methods of public access in Surprise Canyon
following completion of public scoping, and a National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA) compliance document. The NEPA compliance document will evaluate a
full range of options for management of human access to Surprise Canyon
within the area affected by the interim closure.Authority for this closure is
found in 43 CFR 8364.1. Violations of this order may be subject to the
penalties provided according to 43 CFR 8360.0-7.Dated: May 23, 2001.Gail
Acheson,Acting Deputy State Director for Resources.[FR Doc. 01-13538 Filed
5-25-01; 8:45 am]BILLING CODE 4310-40-P


Jun 5, 2000
It just keeps on coming:

Algodones Dunes, 49,310 Acres. On 11-2-00, the Bureau of Land Management agreed to a sweeping legal settlement with the Center requiring the prohibition of off road vehicles from 49,310 acres of the Algodones Dunes to protect the endangered Peirson's milkvetch.

Surprise Canyon, 4,600 Acres. A later settlement agreement in the same case resulted in an agreement to end jeep winching up waterfalls within the 4,600 acre Surprise Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern in the Panamint Range near Death Valley National Park,

Microphyll Woodlands, 480,500 Acres. ORVs are prohibited in microphyll woodland desert washes across 480,500 acres of the Sonoran desert of Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

Wilderness and ACECs, 1.1 Million Acres. The BLM also agreed to review and end trespass ORV use in of 713,600 acres of wilderness and 400,000 acres of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern.

Windy Point, 1,080 Acres. Promote recovery of the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard and Coachella Valley milkvetch by closing 1,080 acres of habitat to ORV use at Windy Point near Palm Springs CA.

Edwards Bowl/Helendale, 11,600 Acres. Prohibit ORVs on 11,600 acres of critical desert tortoise habitat at Edwards Bowls and Helendale CA.

Afton Canyon. The agreement requires the fencing of approximately 5 miles of perennial waters on the Mojave River at Afton Canyon to keep out damaging ORVs.

Ash Meadows. Fence populations of rare Ash Meadows plants to keep ORVs out.

Kelso Creek. The BLM agreed to fence streamsides to exclude ORVs.

Rattlesnake Canyon. The BLM agreed to fence streamsides to exclude ORVs.
For more information on the settlement, click here.

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