The following Travel Management Comments were submitted by Colorado BHA on May 7, 2014 on the Burn Canyon Travel Management Plan, near Norwood, Colorado.
Uncompahgre Field Office
On behalf of Colorado Backcountry Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Norwood-Burn Canyon Travel Management Plan EA.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a member-driven sportsmen conservation organization dedicated to speaking-up for the solitude, challenge and overwhelming reward that hunting and fishing our wild public lands and waters provides. These traditions depend on large blocks intact tract of wildlife habitat, with minimal modern disturbances. The Burn Canyon area offers this type habitat and hunting opportunity. Thus we felt compelled to comment.
True to Colorado BHA’s boots-on-the-ground ethic, our comments are based on on-the-ground knowledge of members who hunt, fish and watch over this country. Based on these observations and what’s been proposed, overall, we feel that the plan does a worthy job of seeking to balance the needs of wildlife and motorized recreationists. However, we’re concerned that the plan prioritizes motorized and mechanized trail development and that the wildlife impacts of this new development need to be more carefully taken into account and reflected in the plan. What follows is a list of these points.
- The area within 2002 Burn Canyon fire is critical winter range for big game. The science (see below) has shown that disturbance during this time of year can have detrimental effects on populations. We suggest the BLM consider a seasonal closure in this area from December 1 to April 30.
- The EA includes language (page 8) that the BLM will consult with CPW to adjust seasonal closures dates. While we support the general concept of adaptive management and recognize that game species can shift based on weather patterns, this wintering habitat is consistently occupied. Thus we ask the BLM to reconsider this confusing variable closure and stick to the dates suggested above.
Land with Wilderness Characteristics:
- It’s unclear if Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC’s) were considered within this EA. Sportsmen and wildlife alike depend on these backcountry lands, thus we’d appreciate some explanation in the plan about whether or not LWC’s were considered.
- The Burn Canyon area currently holds good populations of big game during the summer and hunting season, while also providing sportsmen with good non-motorized hunting opportunity. We’re deeply concerned that the proposed ATV between Burn Canyon and Callan draw will intersect this block of non-motorized habitat and have a negative impact on both big game habitat security and non-motorized hunting opportunity in the area. We ask the BLM to reconsider constructing this new motorized route.
- We oppose the construction of proposed trails 3229 and 3432 as they would again intersect a relatively large tract of secure, non-motorized habitat. This connector trail would greatly expand use and degrade otherwise high-quality habitat, while also pushing game out during hunting seasons. The BLM should reconsider construction of this trail.
Thank you for considering our comments and for all that you do to help keep our backcountry sporting traditions alive. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to comment on this plan and offer our assistance with any follow-up that may be needed.
Southern Rockies Coordinator
References available at:
Collection of Literature Reviews on Environmental Impacts of Motorized Use: http://www.backcountryhunters.org/index.php/our-work-our-values/orv-responsibility/261-research-illustrates-the-need-for-responsible-ohv-use
Collection of Research on the Impacts of Motorized Development on Elk and Elk Hunting