BLM Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC) Inventory
Monument Falls in Bear Mountain unit. Photo Wild Connections
BLM adds 8,204 acres of Bear Mountain to its Lands With Wilderness Characteristics
The Royal Gorge Field Office of BLM notified the public in January that it has added this rugged roadless area to its wilderness inventory.
The lands added by BLM in response to Wild Connections' inventory reports has increased from the 2013 figure of 77,765 acres to 190,722 acres.
Thanks to the multi-year inventories by Wild connections volunteers and the careful review by BLM staff the recognized wilderness lands are more than doubled!
Information on the wilderness inventory is found on BLM's web site. However, the Bear Mountain report has not been updated: in their letter to Wild connections on January 26, they noted "The RGFO is currently not able to update the webpage, please share this information with anyone who is interested."
BLM revises Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC) Wild Connections citizen inventories helped more than double the wilderness acres The Royal Gorge Field Office of BLM recently posted a revised inventory of Lands with Wilderness Characteristics on their webpage. Although they did not accept all of Wild Connections findings, 77% of the additions were in response to new information submitted primarily by Wild Connections.
The updated information by LWC area is here. In 2013 BLM found only 77,924 acres that they believed met the criteria for LWCs. In the 2015 inventory summary table they now list 182,546 acres, more than double the previous count. This is a good example of the value of citizen science in action and the need for people and organizations to continue a vigorous dialogue with land management agencies. Citizen activism works!
Background of LWC Inventories
For twenty years volunteers, interns and staff have mapped the boundaries of roadless areas on USFS and BLM lands across the mountain watersheds of the Arkansas and South Platte Rivers to provide solid documentation for the wildlands network.
This began only recently on BLM lands, beginning in 2013, in preparation for the BLM Royal Gorge Field Office (RGFO) Resource Management Plan (RMP) revision, which was just announced June 1, 2015. Wild Connections did a preliminary desktop inventory of BLM roadless lands and then spent 2013 - 2015 on the ground doing Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC) inventories, with the help of volunteers, interns, and our Wildlands Conservation Coordinator, John Sztukowski.
Many of the Lands With Wilderness Chacteristics are found along the Arkansas Canyon. Click to enlarge map.
Lands with Wilderness Characteristics, or LWC, is a new BLM consideration for their planning process. The purpose is to (1) identify all BLM lands that have wilderness characteristics based on BLM Manual 6310, such as size, naturalness, and opportunities for solitude and/or primitive recreation, and (2) how these lands will be managed, particularly if they will be managed as LWC or not, based on BLM Manual 6320.
Managing for Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC) is consistent with BLM's Mulitiple-Use Sustainable Yield policy, as this management practice would protect a multitude of resources, including wildlife habitiat and corridors, species diversity, large natural landscapes, clean air and water, scenic views, dark night skies, soundscapes, and scientific, historical, and cultural resources. This also protects outstanding primitive recreational opportunities, such as hunting, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, wildlife viewing, sightseeing, and photography just to name a few!
Results of Wild Connections BLM Mapping
Wild Connections conducted LWC inventories on about 290,000 acres and found wilderness characteristics on approximately 246,000 acres of these BLM lands. In contrast, BLM assessed 257,325 acres and identified only 77,765 acres as having wilderness characteristics.
Detailed reports on the 24 areas we found to have Lands with Wilderness Characteristics were submitted to BLM and are available to the public. (See side bar)
Wild Connections and other organizations are organizing citizen input into BLM’s Resource Management Plan public process.
Colorado Central Magazine article Go to http://cozine.com/2015-april/20823/ to read Wild Connections: Mapping Potential WIlderness Areas in Colorado Central's April 2015 edition.
Wild Connections’ objectives were:
to independently identify BLM “Lands with Wilderness Characteristics” that will be submitted as citizen input for BLM’s inventory
identify unique wildlife habitat, plant biodiversity, cultural resources and important linkages between BLM, Forest, and state lands
to formulate recommendations for a Citizens’ Conservation Proposal that Wild Connections and other organizations will submit to BLM when it begins its management plan revision in 2015
Monument Creek below the falls in Bear Mountain/West Table Mountain.
Intern training with our Wildlands Inventory Coordinator, John Sztukowski
Grape Creek sweeps aound this rock escaprment in Grand Canyon Hills area.
Uncommon pink color morph coachwip snake observed in the Table Mountain proposed LWC
Dusky grouse in the mist, Sangre de Cristo Foothills area.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos were taken by Wild Connections' inventory teams.
BLM areas that Wild Connections found to have Wilderness Characteristics. Click on map to enlarge.
The Introduction describes Wild Connection's LWC inventory overview, methodology, and comparison to BLM's LWC inventory. Area reports include a detailed map, description of Wilderness Characteristics, and photos with GPS locations. Click on a report to view or dowload the PDF file.
Wild Connections' mission is to identify, protect, and restore wildlands, native species, and biological diversity in the Arkansas and South Platte watersheds. They are the ancestral lands of the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other indigenous peoples.