BLM Violates Federal Law in Indian Creek

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On October 21, 2005, Monticello Field Office Manager Sandra A. Meyers signed the “Finding of No Significant Impact and Decision Record Environmental Assessment UT – 090-00-47 Indian Creek Corridor Plan and EA Monticello Field Office.”  This document basically stated that Mrs. Meyers had “determined that the action  will not have a significant effect on the human environment.  An environmental impact statement is, therefore, not required.”

With little local support from the citizens of San Juan County, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) would move forward on developing the federally designated Indian Creek Recreation Area with No Environmental Impact to the area.   The Indian Creek Corridor Plan outlines what the BLM was going to do in the area and how the BLM would deal with different types of activities and issues that might come up.

Let’s take a minute a look at what they plan to do, and then we can take a look and see if there was any significant impact to the area.

THE PLAN

Here is a list of some of the issues outlined in the plan:

  • Rock climbing will remain open to the public and new routes and bolting will be allowed.
  • Trails as needed will be allowed, evaluated, and developed by the BLM along with the climbing community.
  • Parking areas will be developed in the Indian Creek Corridor and one particular area will  include a fully paved parking lot and restrooms.
  • BLM will close all the long time public free camping sites  in the Indian Creek area to include around Newspaper Rock:  camping was closed from News Paper Rock  to 9 miles west on HWY 211.  The BLM told the public they closed this area because of the danger of flooding.  
  • The BLM would develop controlled organized camping areas for the public at the following locations:   Hamburger Rock, Creek Pasture, Indian Creek Falls, Superbowl, Bridger Jack Mesa, Cottonwood Wash, and Newspaper Rock.  They would develop a large parking area at Donnelley Canyon.  With all other camping closed it would funnel the public into the BLM’s developed campgrounds so that they would be able to charge for camping if needed and have more control over the public in the recreation area.
  • A sanitation and garbage: “pack in pack out” policy would be enforced in all areas of the corridor.  If the BLM deemed this to be a problem they would put in portable toilets or restrooms.
  • The BLM would also build information Kiosks at these different locations

The 12 page Environmental Assessment document goes on to explain why there is no impact to this area despite all the new developments and construction in the area.

2005 Environmental Assessment – No Impact Indian Creek by The Petroglyph

As you can see in the Environmental Assessment it concludes by determining that there will be no significant  environmental impact to the Indian Creek Corridor.  As far as I can tell this is the same Environmental Assessment that Robert Leaver of the BLM used to close County Road D0570 that ran through the Creek Pasture Campground in the fall of 2011.

Despite the BLM’s original findings that there would be no significant environmental impact there appears to have been a great deal of impact.  Since 2005 the BLM has created a  large paved parking lot, 8 to 9 permanent restrooms, multiple information kiosks, and several developed campgrounds with picnic tables, fire grills, and gravelled camping areas.  They have also allowed the Friends of Indian Creek to put metal donation boxes and advertisements around the kiosks locations.

The development of the Indian Creek Recreation Area has without doubt created a significant Environmental Impact on the environment and the humans that use this area.  The following photo’s were taken in the Indian Creek Recreation Area over the last several years.  They will clearly illustrate that there is has been a big impact and the BLM has been violating federal law as a result of moving forward with this project without a proper Environmental Assessment (EA).  The photos of the road closure D0570  will also confirm that the Robert Leaver violated the “No Significant Impact” ruling of the 2005 EA and  should have been charged accordingly.

PHOTO’S OF THE IMPACT TO THE AREA

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Donnelley Canyon Parking Area
Bob Torrey & BLM employee surveying Robert Leavers damage to the area after Leaver closed county road D0570
Bob Torrey & BLM employee surveying Robert Leavers damage to the area after Leaver closed county road D0570
Closure_0001
Berm closing the road with road closed sign in the middle
Overview of the western end of the campground in 2011 with all the berms
Overview of the western end of the campground in 2011 with all the berms
Closure_0004
13 tank traps 2012
Same 13 tank traps 2012
Same 13 tank traps 2012

 

The magic blur line that BLM painted on the ground 2012
The magic blue line that BLM painted on the ground 2012

The above blue line is the Magic blue line that BLM Archaeologist Laird painted on the ground in an attempt to cover up the environmental impact created by Robert Leaver.

New-sign

 

Picnic Tables at Creek Pasture and the berms removed 2013
Picnic Tables at Creek Pasture and the berms removed 2013
This is the area as of March 2013 after being totally leveled and vegetation removed by heavy equipment.
This is the area as of March 2013 after being totally leveled and vegetation removed by heavy equipment.
Creek Pasture Campground
Creek Pasture Campground

 

Friends of Indian Creek Donation Box
Friends of Indian Creek Donation Box
Hamburger Rock Campground
Hamburger Rock Campground

 

NO CAMPING SIGNS

NO CAMPING SIGNS

KIOSK
KIOSK
Restrooms and Kiosk Highway 211 and County Road 104
Restrooms and Kiosk Highway 211 and County Road 104
Indian Creek Restrictions
Indian Creek Restrictions
Indian Creek Recreation Area
Indian Creek Recreation Area
Camping Closed next 9 Miles
Camping Closed next 9 Miles
Newspaper Rock
Newspaper Rock
Indian Creek Restrictions
Indian Creek Restrictions
Road Closed Sign
Road Closed Sign

 

Trails Created by the climbers with out EA's cover the area and traverse around the base of the cliffs
Trails Created by the climbers with out EA’s cover the area and traverse around the base of the cliffs
Kiosk Bridger Jack Mesa
Kiosk Bridger Jack Mesa
Friends of Indian Creek and Backcountry.com boxes
Friends of Indian Creek and Backcountry.com boxes
Hamburger Rock Restroom
Hamburger Rock Restroom
Superbowl Campground
Superbowl Campground

The next three pictures were taken before the BLM decided to create the Creek Pasture Campground.

Creek Pasture Campground Site prior to all the development
Creek Pasture Campground Site prior to all the development
Another view of the same area before all construction and impact
Another view of the same area before all construction and impact
Camping in Creek Pasture before all the development
Camping in Creek Pasture before all the development

It is very clear that there has been significant impact to humans and the Indian Creek Corridor.  The Environmental Assessment that was signed by BLM Manager Meyers in 2005 was not followed or adhered to by the administration and employee Robert Leaver  as these pictures illustrate.  This has been brought to the attention of the San Juan County Commissioners and the BLM to no avail.

The BLM should be held accountable and be forced to follow the rules they require everyone else to follow.  If you agree then contact the Monticello BLM Field Office or the San Juan County Commissioners and file a complaint that the BLM has violated their own 2005 Environmental Assessment and should be held accountable.

Here is the BLM contact information:

Monticello Field Office
365 North Main Street
Monticello, Utah  84535
(435) 587-1500

The new Field Office Manager is: Donald Hoffheins  dhoffhei@blm.gov

Here is the San Juan County Commissioners Contact Information:

Bruce Adams, Chairman  bbadams@sanjuancounty.org
Phil Lyman plyman@sanjuancounty.org
Kenneth Maryboy  kmaryboy@sanjuancounty.org

Office  (435) 587-3225

 

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