Bureau of Land Management Approves Buckeye Hills Travel Management Plan
The Bureau of Land Management’s Lower Sonoran Field Office has finalized the Buckeye Hills Travel Management Plan Environmental Assessment that designates a travel route system southwest of the Phoenix metropolitan area. The travel management plan was designed to provide a variety of recreational activities while protecting natural and cultural resources on public lands.
The plan analyzed the combined 572,159-acre Buckeye Hills East and West travel management areas. These areas include the communities of Buckeye, Rainbow Valley, Hassayampa, and Palo Verde in Pinal and Maricopa counties.
“Public lands surround the growing Phoenix metropolitan area, which means there is an increasing demand for recreational opportunities,” said Phoenix District Manager Leon Thomas. “This plan allows the BLM to balance the needs of public land users while conserving the outdoor environment that we all enjoy.”
During the public planning process, the BLM identified and evaluated routes in the travel management areas. The final plan designates a route system with a mix of motorized and non-motorized use while providing for resource protection. The designated route system would allow for enhanced experiences for a variety of recreational activities by increasing the miles allowed for non-motorized activities such as hiking, equestrian, bicycling, and backpacking. There would be a decrease in miles designated as open to all use through the elimination of redundant routes and routes through riparian areas and washes in the interest of public safety and conservation of riparian habitat. Non-designated routes will be naturally reclaimed.
Improving trail and off-highway vehicle management minimizes impacts to wildlife habitat, reduces the introduction and spread of invasive weeds, lessens conflicts among recreation users, and prevents damage to cultural resources caused by the expansion of roads and trails on public lands.
The BLM conducted an analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act between 2016 and 2018. Analysis included public scoping, stakeholder outreach, open houses, and public comment periods. The plan was developed thanks to collaborative efforts with user groups, local and county governments, and state agencies. Implementing the travel management plan is expected to take several years.