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BLM asking for input on off-road race through Basin and Range National Monument


Just a Lobster Minion
NAXJA Member
BLM asking for input on off-road race through Basin and Range National Monument

The public now has a chance to weigh in on plans for an upcoming off-road race that would cross through Nevada’s newest national monument.

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday released its environmental assessment for the Best in the Desert “Vegas to Reno” race but has yet to sign off on a proposed route that includes 37 miles of existing dirt roads within Basin and Range National Monument.

The BLM will accept public input through July 31 before rendering a final decision on the race, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 19 near the Lincoln County town of Alamo and end Aug. 20 in Dayton, just east of Carson City.

This would mark the 20th year for the off-road race across Nevada, assuming Best in the Desert is granted a special recreation permit to run the event on federal land.

BLM officials note that the race has used this same, 643-mile course before, most recently in 2006.

But some conservationists have criticized the event and the bureau’s review of it.

Washington, D.C.-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility accused the agency of giving tacit approval to the race even though a management plan and other guiding documents have not yet been drafted for the monument, which President Barack Obama designated last July on 704,000 acres about 120 miles north of Las Vegas.

The BLM’s environmental assessment also considers two alternate routes that would skirt Basin and Range: one that would use the same Beatty-to-Dayton course as last year and avoid Lincoln County altogether, and another that would start near Alamo but require race crews to stop at the edge of the monument boundary, pack up their vehicles and use highways to drive to the other side of the monument, where the race would resume.

Race organizers expect about 330 all-terrain vehicles to take part, including trucks, cars, buggies and motorcycles. The event could draw as many as 5,000 spectators.

Under the federal permit, Best in the Desert would be required to provide for safety and resource protection, sanitation, post-race cleanup and rehabilitation along the route.

Jim Boone is a Las Vegas ecologist who advocated on behalf of Basin and Range. He said an off-road race is not necessarily an incompatible use of the land, so long as the event is properly managed and monitored.

“People do all sorts of things in national monuments. It’s not like a wilderness area. It’s not like a national park,” said Boone, who runs the outdoor adventure website birdandhike.com. “If they’ve done it before and haven’t screwed up the place, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to do it again.”

“It’s their national monument too,” he said.

The environmental assessment is available online at: http://1.usa.gov/291xoSO.
Written comments can be submitted via the website; emailed [email protected]; or mailed to: 1553 South Main Street, P.O. Box 911, Tonopah, NV 89049.
For more information on the environmental review, contact Melanie Hornsby, Outdoor Recreation Planner at 775-885-6000. Questions specific to the Basin and Range National Monument should be directed to monument manager Alicia Styles at 775-726-8100.