BLM welcomes input on draft plans to modernize management of Arizona recreation sites

Published by The Bee News

May 13, 2024

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PHOENIX – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public input on five draft Recreation Business Plans that would modernize the way recreation fee sites are managed for the following locations: Kingman Field Office, Lake Havasu Field Office, the Arizona Strip Field Office’s Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area, the Phoenix District’s Recreational Shooting Sites, and the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument’s Paria Canyon/Coyote Buttes Special Management Area and White Pocket.

An interactive StoryMap shows the locations and all proposed fee sites and changes, as well as how to provide comments. Additionally, the BLM will host two virtual public information sessions about the proposals at 6:00 p.m. on May 30 and June 5.

Comments on the proposals must be submitted or emailed by June 12.

BLM conducted a market analysis of current recreation fees statewide which revealed that fee rates were below local market prices. “The BLM has not updated business plans for our recreation sites to reflect market conditions in decades,” said Gerald Davis, BLM Arizona Deputy State Director for Resources and Planning. “The updated plans would enable the BLM to improve services and add amenities in order to ensure these sites provide the exceptional experiences that visitors to public lands deserve.”

 

The draft Business Plans outline information related to the existing and proposed recreation fee sites, proposed fee changes, operation and maintenance costs and planned expenditures. One hundred percent of recreation fees collected at sites are reinvested directly back into the local recreation program to expand and improve recreational opportunities, as authorized by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) of 2004.

Over the past five years, visitation to public lands in Arizona has increased from 4.9 million to 6.8 million. However, BLM’s budget per visitor has fallen despite increasing use and visitation. “Those increases have caused wear and tear,” Davis said. “With rising costs and increased visitation, the BLM is seeking public input on proposed increases that would keep pace with the cost of operations and maintenance that are comparative to other public agency and private sector facilities.”

 

Outdoor recreation is an $11.7 billion industry in Arizona. Recreation opportunities on BLM-administered lands contribute more than $276.2 million to Arizona’s economy. The BLM’s “Blueprint for 21st Century Outdoor Recreation” provides guidance to proactively respond to increasing visitation by diversifying recreation funding sources and carefully considering recreation demand, program needs, and investment opportunities for current and future needs and enjoyment.

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