BARSTOW • The Bureau of Land Management and the California Historic Route 66 Association are teaming in an effort to have California's portion of Route 66 designated as a scenic byway.
Public scoping meetings about the Route 66 Corridor Management Plan have taken place throughout the week, with the final meetingscheduled for Friday night in Needles. The BLM and the CHR66 Association are developing the plan as the required first step toward getting a scenic byway designation from the Federal Highway Administration for the 153-mile stretch of Route 66 from the western edge of Barstow to the edge of the Colorado River in Needles.
"The goal of the effort is really about preserving and enhancing Route 66, for heritage tourism," consultant Jim Klein, of Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, said in a presentation at Monday's Planning Commission meeting.
The Federal Highway Administration designates a road as a scenic byway for "having special scenic, historic, recreational, cultural, archeological and/or natural qualities that have been recognized as such through legislation or official designation." Of the eight states that are home to portions of Route 66, five (Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Illinois) have the National Scenic Byway designation.
The corridor management plan must be finalized as a requirement from the FHWA, and Klein said that process is starting with this week's public meetings.
"The management effort is geared at finding ways to encourage people to stay longer in the communities around (Route 66)," Klein said. "By encouraging thinking about Route 66 as an outdoor museum, by the time you begin to see more of the things that are out there, and learn more about them, the deeper you get into it."
Viola Basulto, of the Planning Commission, asked Klein to consider honoring Barstow's Native American heritage in the project, and inquired about how the Route 66 plan affects the Spanish Trail Plan.
"This winter we'll have a draft plan to review, some implementation steps on 'how do we go from here to there?' " Klein said. "At some point we'll want you to endorse the plan by passing it in some way; a resolution."