BLM reopens 31,000 acres of Clear Creek Management area for restricted use; keeps 5,070 acres closed
February 12, 2014
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has announced the reopening of the 31,000-acre Serpentine Area of Critical Environmental Concern in California's San Benito and Fresno counties to limited street-licensed vehicle use, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
At the same time, the BLM says, about 5,070 acres of public lands within the Clear Creek Management Area "exhibit Wilderness characteristics" and "will be managed to emphasize primitive, non-motorized recreation opportunities."
The BLM decision also means all-terrain vehicles will have access to the parts of the Clear Creek Management Area that were never closed, but were rendered inaccessible.
The 75,000-acre Clear Creek area, which includes the Serpentine ACEC, was closed in 2008 after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns about asbestos exposure.
Under the decision signed Feb. 11 by the California state director of the BLM, only vehicles licensed for highway use may obtain permits to enter the Serpentine area, and the BLM retains the right to limit the number of annual visitor-use days "to reduce human health risks associated with exposure to naturally occurring asbestos."
Currently, the BLM is limiting vehicle touring to five days a year and pedestrian activity to 12 days a year.
The BLM says it may "reassess its decisions on access and vehicle travel in the Serpentine ACEC if significant new information becomes available on human health risks from exposure to airborne asbestos fibers."
The BLM's notice marks the beginning of a 30-day appeal period for the public to challenge implementation decisions in the document. The temporary closure order for Clear Creek Management Area will remain in effect until the end of the 30-day appeal period on March 14, 2014.
The AMA supports the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act, introduced in congress in May 2013.
The bill, H.R. 1776, would reopen the Clear Creek Management Area for recreational use and designate about 21,000 acres of BLM land adjacent to Clear Creek as the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness.
The bill instructs the BLM to develop a rigorous plan to minimize the risk from asbestos exposure and to educate visitors to the recreation area about the natural asbestos. The BLM also would be required to reduce the impact of off-road vehicles to protect the area's habitat.
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world's largest motorcycling rights organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists' interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its support of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, please visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com