“This study helps us see what is actually happening on the ground in our WSAs,” said Zack Pratt, Outdoor Recreation Planner and project lead. “The data collected will help us better manage travel, minimize trespasses and develop better fire rehabilitation plans within the WSAs.”
The six WSAs studied within the Tuscarora Field Office were Cedar Ridge, Red Spring, Rough Hills, Little Humboldt River, Owyhee Canyon, and South Fork Owyhee Canyon. The project was funded by the National Landscape Conservation System. Pratt led a team of interns from the Great Basin Institute in data collection. The research, conducted during the summer of 2012, also examined OHV impacts on soil and vegetation.
Using baseline data from 1979, the research found that some previously known trespasses had disappeared, some trespasses were new, some had become shorter in length implying they have not been used frequently, and some had become longer implying current use. Understanding how routes are used and how they recover can aid the BLM in managing WSA routes and minimizing trespasses.
In 1964, Congress created the National Wilderness Preservation System to preserve some of America's wild lands in their natural condition. To qualify for Wilderness designation, an area must appear natural with human influence substantially unnoticeable, have outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined recreation, and be at least 5,000 acres. The area may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, scenic, or historic value. The Elko District Office manages 10 Wilderness Study Areas totalling more than 272,000 acres. They are places "untrammeled by man offering outstanding opportunities for solitude and recreation.”
The study is available on the Elko District website www.blm.gov/rv5c or you can contact Zack Pratt at (775) 753-0212 for more information.