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  1. #1
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    Ask a public lands planner

    Howdy!

    I work for the Bureau of Land Management in Vernal, Utah. I ride mostly XC with a little free riding, some dirt jumping and a lot of government chair. I can help you by answering questions, finding contacts for an area you are interested in building/having trails, and I'm promoting riding on public lands, including parks, dh, freeriding, etc. I can help you and I'm up for answering your "WTF" questions with regards to public lands and trail planning/process, construction and the whys. I have lots of time right now as I broke my clavicle, sternum and an undisclosed number of ribs when my p2 rims folded upon landing at I Street jump park in SLC, Utah. Get ahold of me, I will talk candidly and hope to learn from you so I can represent what you want in meetings, planning, and in trail development planning!

  2. #2
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    Hey, sorry about your injury, but better that it happened when you have lots of winter recovery time, right?
    Vernal is on my list of places to go. It is an interesting part of the country and some nice trails.

    Do you have a spring biting gnat season in the Vernal area?

    What is the BLM's go-to document/policy when evaluating trail building proposals from the public?

  3. #3
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    We do, but some folks are immune (i'm one of them), and it isn't comparitively too bad. Spring/Fall riding here is amazing. More and more folks are buying high capacity led's for night riding in the summer. Early morning works too. Let me know when you come this way. We'll tie you in with the locals and get on the trail with you!

  4. #4
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    As for the meet of your question Each BLM office prioritizes its workload through its management based on goals and objective outlined within its most current resource management plan (usually life of an RMP is around 20 yrs). In Vernal, recreation projects/proposals recieve a lower priority than oil and gas as Vernal is primarily a Minerals extraction offfice. (Identified as on of Five pilot oil and gas offices in the 2005) Our projects still get completed, but priority isn't as high. However, Moab, is predominantely Recreation based, and recreation projects compete for attention there. It takes a few things to get pushed to the top of the list. One Persistence, two finding the right individual or vehicle for your proposal and three follow-up. Example would be John of the street is one voice, ABC bicycle shop is a louder voice, and County Rec/Commissioners are a louder voice. So, rally the "troops" read IMBAs book on managing mountain biking so you know the hoops that need to be jumped through and dig in. To get it done correctly especially in an office that hasn't completed a similar project in the past takes time. The good news is, once you build a wheel within an office the wheel picks up speed and can be used over and over again. I'm not giving you the official "opinion" of the BLM, just my humble observation between and among project priorities. The hard truth is that you need a project "champion" or "champions" within the office. I'm a bike enthusiast, if you have recreation planners that aren't interested in biking find a way to get them interested via public involvement. So there isn't a clearing house flow chart for projects across the BLM.. What I can offer is a friendly voice, I can contact your BLM rec Planner and test the enthusiasm level and push friendly advice. Using IMBA, Shimano, and the BLM's own Strategic Mountain Bike Action plan is SUPER helpful. Feel Free to call me anytime. 435-781-4501 to discuss nuances etc.

  5. #5
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    got it! I worked for a small CRM outfit in Dolores, CO and we dealt mostly with the BLM office in Monticello, UT. Yes, I do understand the oil/gas exploration/resource extraction as a priority there, as opposed to the scene in Moab just up the road.
    You can be an amazing resource for those who want to know how to initiate the process.
    Cheers.

  6. #6
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    BLM Study semantics and protocols

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweatequity View Post
    Jason:

    Is is true that in the Moab area the BLM supplies Archeology, Hydrology and Botany studies free of charge to the local trail building organization in that area? Unlike the FS which can charge sometimes tens of thousands of dollars for such studies?

    Also I understand that during BLM approved trail building projects that there can be accidental injury coverage provided by the BLM for volunteers who work on such projects.

    Do you know if this is true for all BLM offices?
    What happens in offices is that Specialists compile or contract studies according to workload priorities. In our office, large companies can streamline the study process by contracting out to proven BLM accepted contractors for Archeology, Botany, Paleo etc. If the office has the internal resources and projects are within the scope and priority of workload, the reviews depending on scope and scale can be completed in house at most BLM offices. Other smaller entities without the resources to hire a contractor, get in a theoretical line for proposed projects within a field office. Field office managers utlimately decide which projects have top priority and subsequesntly mid level managers assign workloads to accomplish tasks organized through activity codes (budget) to reach targets that have been forwarded up through the system to congress, making each office accountable through its district, state, and National office. If your field office said it would build say 400 miles of non motorized trails within the life of its Resource plan, it may divy that up by years, and by user groups, and if the proposal is feasible, it may become a priority. Additionally, finding that "champion" within the office to push for a project(s) is key. If there isn't enthusiasm within the rec shop for the project, it isn't likely to receive priority. Once again, not official BLM response, but my observation. In my office, if there are cultural concerns, botanical concerns, and the acreage is large, we generally look to contract out for impact analysis reports which are then reviewed and approved internally. Other offices have time and resources to complete specialist review in house. One of the Big terms you'll start to hear is Cost Recovery. This is generally associated (in the past) with Special Recreation Permits. It basically says that if the proposed project will take more than 50 cumulative employee hours to review, the project proponent will reimburse the Government up front for the cost of the review. This could push out smaller groups, and individual proposals externally from being able to afford the NEPA review required for the project. Creative funding including IMBA grants, AMA grants and other grants can be applied for to offset the up front costs of NEPA. I'm happy to help fwd grant opportunities that the gov't can't apply for for your review as they come in.

    All volunteers that are working under a volunteer agreement are covered by the governments tort claim process and are covered in the event of an accident if they werent negligent. Recently the BLM volunteer program changed volunteer agreements to include EMS plans for potential injuries to be added to the agreements. Make sure that if you volunteer for a project it is legitimate and that you are "signed up" with a BLM managers signature on the paper. I was a volunteer coordinator for 4 years and can answer volunteer specific questions or refer you to our state specialist.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweatequity View Post
    Jason:

    Thanks for your detailed response.

    So what you are saying is if an entity (non-profit?) develops a trust worthy relationship with a BLM office that has the resources to help with new trail projects, that those surveys needed to approve the project can be done by BLM employees w/o charge to the group volunteering to build the new trails.

    Also the BLM can provide accidental injury coverage while working on approved projects to volunteers who have signed the approved BLM volunteer agreements free of charge.

    This I believe is being done in the Moab area and has allowed Trail Mix to get their trail building out of pockets costs down to about $1 a foot. This has been accomplished by a huge volunteer effort on the planning, construction and trail signage of the hundreds of miles of new trails in the last four years.

    I also understand that the planning of future new trails in the Moab area is made much easier because the BLM is willing to share maps of which areas around the surrounding Moab area don't currently have issues that make those areas off limits to new trail construction, such as the migration of endangered animal species in a certain area.
    Not exactly what I'm saying is if the project takes more than 50 hours of national environmental policy act review everyone has to pay for it regardless of their relationship to the Blm. moabs advantage is that they have surveys of areas without concern which significantly decreases the evaluation time required for a project. I'm using my phone to answer this sorry if it's not clear I'm not a computer until after Christmas

  8. #8
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    I appreciate your question, I would counter with, where do you live and where would you like to see a 50 mile system. St. George has a lot of recreational ability right now with similar soils and slick rock opportunities. The slick rock was the key to quick trails. Sustainable and durable. The issue with the two people on a bike theory is building sustainable trails. any two bikes can hack a trail in the ground, but having training and the skills necessary to build a good system that will last and not be blown out after the first storm moves through is important. i know that isnt a specific answer for you, but i hope my answer still has value. I believe Moab is unique, but if you get me areas you are interested in i can find out if existing Nepa has been completed for you.

  9. #9
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    Gov is off today, but I'll look into this when I get back to work tomorrow . Two different offices manage land near Page. I'll find out who the rec planners are, reach out to them, and get a feel for there interest in a trail system. What type of riding are we talking about? And if you would like me to put you in touch with them after I talk and get you a better answer, feel free to call me or email me your information.

  10. #10
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    I've gotten a call in to the Hassayampa field office and requested a return call from the Outdoor Recreation planning staff. I'm guessing they may be off through the weekend. I'll follow up with you and place another call on Monday if I don't hear back.

  11. #11
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    Jason, a word to the wise...

    "Sweatequity" is "traildoc" aka that goofball John Finch

    Trail building prompts $1,000 fine in Sedona

    Google is your friend here.

    Good luck with that.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweatequity View Post
    Not sure wanting to get 50 miles of new trail working with the BLM is goofy.
    I did not post that although that is one of your common tactics John i.e. conflate/distract in a vain attempt at clouding the issue while trying to push your neurotic agendas in a passive-aggressive fashion.

    Jason, and others, have once again been warned that one of the local crazies is in the house masquerading as someone who actually gives a sh|t about riders. Hopefully they will be able to understand how toxic it is to be associated with you and your drivel and decide to spend their time where it matters rather than being sucked into the vortex of self-indulgent mediocrity that surrounds you.

  13. #13
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    Smile

    Pot? Kettle? Masked Avenger, please remove your mask and use the repaired text below as a mirror to better understand yourself:

    Quote Originally Posted by Da Masked Avenger View Post
    It is one of my common tactics to conflate/distract in a vain attempt at clouding the issue while trying to push my neurotic agendas in a passive-aggressive fashion.

    Jason, and others, you have once again been warned that I am one of the local crazies is in the house masquerading as someone who actually gives a sh|t about riders. Hopefully you will be able to understand how toxic it is to be associated with me and my drivel and decide to spend your time where it matters rather than being sucked into my vortex of self-indulgent mediocrity.
    Signed, Da Masked Avenger
    Disclaimer: I do not know Da Masked Avenger or Sweatequity (AKA Traildoc) or the details/dynamics surrounding the legal issues, but I'm not afraid to step in to repair an off-camber post.

    Don't let this derail a very interesting thread on interacting with federal entities to pursue trail building opportunities.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweatequity View Post
    ...there is a lot to learn how Moab was able to built so much new trail with so little hard cash. Of course we need to give credit to the two key figures Sandy and Jeff and Scott and Tyson who have worked tirelessly to keep riders on the routes approved by the BLM.
    Hang on, I'm going to wander, digress and do a bit of blathering about trail building on public lands. I do understand your point about creating a trail system on federal land without being hit by the bill for environmental studies.

    As all trail builders know, most mtn bike trail systems on public lands (city, county, state, federal) are at the initiative of dedicated volunteers through relationship building with the land mangers. Fortunately, IMBA's Trail Solutions handbook gives us a way to come to land managers with a solution and a vision in hand.

    But still, it is sometimes a sticky, fraught process, regardless of the larger managing entity. Sometimes it comes down to a particular land manager's ability to be amenable to & understand trail development.
    Are the employees in the particular bureau facilitators or do they throw up road blocks? Is the recreation specialist or another public employee a mountain biker?

    Here in Central Texas there is certainly a paucity of public lands, and yet interesting and fun-to-ride trail systems have been carved out on the little public space available, with a few right in the middle of Austin, TX, all through cultivation of relationships with land managers. There are county parks that love us because they get a new resource (a free, volunteer-built trail system!) that brings paying users through the gates. When we put on a mtn bike race that brings in 600 paying customers, they are delirious.

    Anyway, where was I? Moab is an unusual case. Moab is one of the few places where you really can eat the scenery. The tourism boom post Raiders of the Lost Ark movie, where the stunning landscape was exposed to a bazillion movie goers, is still staggering. For those of us who knew Moab as a sleepy little uranium and cattle town, the transformation is still mind boggling and I don't see it slowing down.

    In that particular area, mountain biking came on the heels of an explosion of climbing and 4 wheeling, so the precedent for recreational use as an important use was set many years ago and likely made the BLM much more amenable to trail development as part of recreational use.

    Moab is gorgeous. Moab has a national park. Moab is on the way to Canyonlands NP. Moab is on the way to somewhere and on the logical, non-mountainous highway to use if you are headed to or from Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, Durango, whatever. Moab is a place that attracts outdoors people, meaning you have a critical population to provide dedicated trail builders and volunteers and an economy based solely on tourism and outdoor recreation.

    Page is a much more distant, hard to get to place, an Empty Quarter of sorts. I don't think that a 50-mile-long trail system would be unreasonable in that topography; in fact it would be a wonderful epic. HOWEVER, who is your volunteer base in a remote town like Page? It is a critical numbers issue in addition to dealing with the initial process of being allowed to build trail on public lands and dealing with environmental regulations.

    Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is under the auspices of the National Park System. Perhaps this would be a good venue to initiate a trail system under a General Management Plan that could work with trail on BLM lands, if such a thing is even remotely possible. Imagine endless miles of singletrack unspooling along the Lake Powell Rim Trail. It is something they would never consider unless someone proposes it.

    Consider the local business environment. Page is tourism dependent. These types of locations are always looking for a way to keep visitors there ONE MORE DAY, so there could be potential for trail miles to give a little bump to the tourism economy, so there may be support there. Lots of possibilities if the environmental restrictions are surmountable.

    Anyway, props to Jason for offering to clarify how to navigate these public lands planning issues and regulations and sincere appreciation to all who build and maintain the trails that make our sport possible.

    Also, keep in mind that grants are available for development of recreational resources from various entities, including REI.

  15. #15
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    Tom B returned my call (while I was out getting an MRI for my shoulder....repurcussions still from I street, Rotator Cuff Surgery is imminent) I appreciate folks looking out for me Brief answer from BLM Hassayampa is that Page is remote and managed from Phoenix. I was referred to a Special Recreation Permit manager, but I'm clarifying that this would be for potential trail development, and not an SRP. Waiting for second call back, and during the interim, feel free to continue to ask questions. and in April, come ride with me. (rode the fuse to work today one handed in 9 degrees. Eyballs so cold I had to look sideways to keep them from freezing). See you on the trails!

  16. #16
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    Additionally (;0) the above info about page was very helpful to me. I agree with the assessment and the potential to utilize the parks system. It would be usefull to determine what entity is closest to completing a Land use plan. A potential system could be proposed within the framework of the plan, making the NEPA component more viable fiscally.

  17. #17
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    Okay, the word from Phoenix is
    1. Get the local maps and find out land ownership (surface)
    2. Get a partner that is willing to work with the BLM to promote a trail syste (example city of Page AZ, Chamber of commerce, IMBA or a local Shop)
    3. You may be able to utilize the master plan for the Black Canyon National Recreational Trail, which is about to begin the scoping process.
    4. Contact the Hassayampa field office @ 623-580-5500. And speak with the Field office manager about your desire for a trail system around page and your ideas to "plant the proverbial seed."

    That is about as far as I can get into it from my end. The Workload for 2014 is laid out currently, so you are looking at 2015 or longer for a new proposal unless you can get the seed planted with traction (via partner interest). I wish you the best of luck. The main things you will need are 1. Time and 2. Persistence 3. Viable sustanable trail proposal (See IMBAs books on how to present to a land manager. They are kinda like a goldent ticket model to rec planners and field office managers that aren't deeply aculturated to mountain biking.

  18. #18
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    read the info. Thanks. I'll continue to entertain viable quesitons Serving mainly as an individual opinion with insite, but not official opinion (aka not representing the BLM office or in any way making decisions) (Yep still riding my chair)

  19. #19
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    Thank you, Jason!

    See post #28-#29.

    Three Bottles technical trail build

    I hope all is going well with your recovery.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasonoutside313 View Post
    Tom B returned my call (while I was out getting an MRI for my shoulder....repurcussions still from I street, Rotator Cuff Surgery is imminent) I appreciate folks looking out for me Brief answer from BLM Hassayampa is that Page is remote and managed from Phoenix. I was referred to a Special Recreation Permit manager, but I'm clarifying that this would be for potential trail development, and not an SRP. Waiting for second call back, and during the interim, feel free to continue to ask questions. and in April, come ride with me. (rode the fuse to work today one handed in 9 degrees. Eyballs so cold I had to look sideways to keep them from freezing). See you on the trails!
    I'm about 6 months out of RC surgery. I'm not sure if you actually got it, or not, according to recent updates. Mine was extensive. So extensive in fact that I'm not even sure what all they did. I was highly motivated to get back on the bike, though. I was actually riding again with some regularity 4 weeks out. I started PT within a week. This was actually my second one, the first being the other shoulder with similar tear but much less damage. Anyway, my shoulder never felt better and IME riding a bike (as long as you don't fall) is quite good therapy as it develops and maintains strength in other key areas. That is not to say that you don't risk screwing things up, but if you are careful and ride the threshold of pain the healing process is quite bearable.

    Good luck, Jason, and thanks again for your comments.

    -Bryan

  21. #21
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    Status Update :)

    Left Clavicle and Sternum have healed. Right Rotator Cuff had another MRI, No tear present, but Orthapedic surgeon found two breaks in my Shoulder joint. Non-operable. Good news! I don't need surgery, and I've been given exercizes with a stretchy band to help with my range of motion. I'm about 5 weeks out from hopefully 90% range of motion. Should be Good to ride by the time the weather breaks. Thanks for asking. And.. Ribs still hurt.

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