Correction 4/26: A previous version of the article incorrectly listed the number of miles of road that the BLM is placing signs on. The correct number is 5,000 miles.
WESTERN MOJAVE DESERT • The Bureau of Land Management has been working to place signs telling people which off-road routes are open and which are closed on three million acres within the western Mojave Desert for about eight years and now has a deadline to finish the signs before July.
Because of a federal judge's ruling in January about the West Mojave Plan — which designated off-highway vehicle routes in BLM land throughout the western Mojave — the agency now has about three months to finish placing signs on 5,000 miles of roads.
The West Mojave Plan was finalized in 2006, but several environmental groups had issues with the plan because of concerns about wildlife safety and air and water quality. After several groups filed a suit in 2006, a judge rejected the plan in 2009. Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that the plan be revised to address specific environmental concerns, including designating the different off-highway routes in the west Mojave by mapping and placing signs.
BLM staff have been working to place the signs for the West Mojave Plan since 2003, said Roxie Trost, field manager for the BLM's Barstow field office. The agency did not have a deadline for the signs before the ruling and was placing some of the signs each year, said Trost.
About four to 14 BLM staff members — including some of its rangers — have been working each day to place the signs at intersections so that people will know which routes are available and which are off-limits, said Trost. The data where each sign has been placed is then entered into a Global Positioning System database.
Trost did not know how many signs have been placed since 2003, but said they numbered in the thousands. The number of signs depends on the location and each one takes about two to five minutes to place, said Trost, who added that one of the things that takes the most time is traveling to each sign location.
The BLM is planning to post information about its signage plan within the next week, said Stephen Razo, external director for the BLM's California Desert District.
As well as the sign plan, there are three other additional plans for the West Mojave that will have to be submitted by the end of the month, said Alan Stein, chief of resources in the California Desert District office. The plans will require items that the BLM normally does anyway, such as signing and maintaining routes and putting up kiosks, said Stein.
For more information about the West Mojave plan, visit http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/cdd.html
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