Wilderness Watch is concerned about a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposal to allow the use of motor vehicles and mechanized tools, and to construct permanent roads to maintain structures related to grazing within Wildernesses in Nevada. The BLM’s Environmental Assessment (EA) for Maintenance of Range Developments within Ely District Wilderness appears to be trying to disregard Wilderness Act prohibitions and skirt National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements by providing blanket-approval for all motorized activities related to maintaining grazing structures in 22 Wildernesses. (BLM regulations and NEPA require such prohibited activities in Wilderness to be considered on an individual basis and allow for public comments.) The Wildernesses included in the proposal are: Becky Peak, Big Rocks, Bristlecone, Clover Mountains, Delamar Mountains, Far South Egans, Fortification Range, Gosh ute Canyon, Government Peak, Highland Ridge, Meadow Valley Range, Mormon Mountains, Mount Grafton, Mt. Irish, Mt. Moriah, Parsnip Peak, South Egan Range, South Pahroc Range, Tunnel Spring, Weepah Spring, White Rock Range, and the Worthington Mountains.
The EA fails to prove any of these prohibited activities are necessary to administer the areas as Wilderness, and even suggests motorized use is not necessary for maintaining the grazing structures. The EA also fails to prove the grazing structures need maintenance or are necessary in the first place. The EA provides too little information on which to provide site-specific comments, as it is not a site-specific document.
We are urging the BLM to adopt the no-action alternative and proceed with requests for motorized use on a case-by-case basis, with appropriate individual analysis, as required by law.
Photo: Far South Egans Wilderness, Nevada by Peter Druschke