It's been 15 years since the Bureau of Land Management wrote a management plan for the 1.3 million-acre Owyhee Resource Area in southwest Idaho, and the agency's attempt to revise it isn't sitting well with ranchers and off-road vehicle enthusiasts. BLM officials were caught off guard in November when several hundred critics showed up at meetings on the draft plan in the small towns of Murphy, Idaho, and Jordan Valley, Ore. Another meeting in Boise was canceled by a fire marshal after more than 500 people showed up in a room designed for 300 people. The preferred alternative of the draft management plan calls for a 35 percent reduction of grazing and requires that cattle be out of riparian areas by July 15 of every year. It also specifies zones for ORV usage and prescribes areas where vehicles can't leave existing roads and jeep trails. Conservationists say the proposals are a step in the right direction; opponents have attacked Owyhee Resource Area manager Jay Carlson and the BLM in ugly op-ed pieces in the Idaho Statesman, accusing Carlson of being a dictator. Carlson says that an extra 1,000 copies of the plan are being printed, and the comment period will be extended another seven months, until July 5.


For more information or a copy of the 1,200-page plan, contact the Owyhee Area Manager, BLM, Boise Field Office, 3948 Development Ave., Boise, ID 83706 (208/384-3300).