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Shelf Road future parking & access to Cactus Cliff


 

by Kelly Bates

January 27, 2004

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

The new EA (Environmental Assessment) for the Gold Belt travel management plan was released and sent out last week. Some things are good in the proposed action, and some are not so good for our user group. Here's one excerpt (below) regarding major changes to our parking and access.

The travel plan page is a good starting place to send in your comments during the comment period (now through 20 Feb). Please don't fire off only negatives though - it seems that this has been reasonably well thought through, reducing firearms noise and OHV use in the Shelf area and modestly increasing OHV and motorized transport in other areas, away from the quiet havens like Shelf. Mountain biking is restricted to trails and roads but there's a boatload of it - just keeping MTB users to the same sorts of rules as OHVers and preventing damage to the land from new unauthorized trails.

The entire EA and proposed action is available in PDF HERE. Please take a few minutes and look it over, and send your comments to Roy Masinton, the Field Manager, as noted in the first link above. Good luck and thank you!

The Road to Cactus Cliffs Parking Area


The issue related to this road was identified by several stakeholders during the public comment phase of the TMP. The road in question is located in the Shelf Road Climbing Area sub-unit and provides access for rock climbers to the parking lot for the Cactus Rose Cliffs. The road was constructed by a private party on a right-of-way granted by BLM, and also provides access to subdivided private lands located immediately north of the Cactus Rose Cliffs. The problem with the road is that it is very steep and presents an extreme driving hazard when conditions are wet or icy. To address this problem, BLM considered two options:

1. Close the road to motor vehicles, except for sub-division landowners and BLM personnel and contractors. This option would require rock climbers and other recreation users to park their vehicles at the small parking areas located at the bottom of the road, or to park at the Bank Campground and hike to Cactus Rose Cliffs. Instead of being able to drive to the upper parking lot, they would have to hike up the road a distance of approximately one-half mile to the climbing walls. This option would reduce the risk of accidents and limit BLM liability by preventing the general public from driving on the road. The existing parking area at the bottom of the road, however, will only accommodate three to four vehicles. Also, parking directly along the Shelf Road is not an option, as it is prohibited by the Fremont County Sheriff. Consequently, the implementation of this option would require the installation of a gate and improvement of the existing parking areas at the bottom of the road. The major advantage of this option to the BLM is that the sub-division landowners would be solely responsible for maintaining and repairing the road. BLM would not be obligated to maintain or repair the road and would be relieved of liability for potential accidents. The major drawback to this option would be the inconvenience to rock climbers, due to the distance they would have to walk to reach the climbing walls.

2. Leave the road open to the public and mitigate hazardous conditions. This option would involve applying various mitigation measures to reduce the driving hazard when conditions are wet or icy. Such measures could include: closing the road to the public during wet and icy conditions; graveling or paving the road to eliminate muddy and slippery driving surfaces; reconstructing hazardous areas to reduce out-slopes and to improve drainage; installing guard rails in strategic locations; and installing appropriate warning signs to discourage driving on the road when conditions are hazardous. This option would reduce the risks of driving on the road by: improving surface conditions; preventing the public from driving on the road during wet and icy periods; installing safety guard rails to prevent serious accidents; and raising user awareness of hazardous conditions. Implementation of this option would require the expenditure of BLM funds to complete the needed improvements. BLM would coordinate the construction of these improvements with the right-of-way holder, however, the holder is only responsible for maintaining the road to a standard that meets his own needs and would not be obligated to jointly share in the cost of constructing these improvements.

Option 1 was selected as the preferred option for addressing this issue. Option 2 was not considered practicable due to the high cost of mitigating the conditions of this road, the long-term commitment that would be required for maintaining and managing its use, and continued liability concerns with public use of the road even with implementation of the proposed mitigation measures. BLM will implement the phased development of installing a gate near the bottom of the road and improving existing parking areas as funding becomes available.


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