The Friends of Juniper Flats support the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Restoration Grant (2014) by providing matching funds in the form of volunteer hours. We volunteer time to monitor the resources in the Juniper Flats Area and report our findings to the BLM. With the restoration grant our monitoring work is defined by the grant and BLM protocols.
The OHMVR grant
In 2014 BLM obtained a 3-year $519,475 Restoration Grant of public money from the OHMVR (Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation) division of State Parks (OHMVR grants). This is an ongoing effort to manage motorized trails in the Arrastre Canyon area of Juniper Flats. In 2016, as part of the grant, BLM mapped and documented well over 200 user created trails called “incursions”. In the map below:
The red pins represent incursions, the white and red lines represent previously mapped closed routes and user created trails. The green lines are the open Single Track motorcycle trails. The blue lines are restoration sites
On lands managed by BLM “incursions” are trails created illegally by people using motorized vehicles. The Juniper Flats Area has its share of these illegal trails, but in Arrastre Canyon, where the hills are very steep and the soils very thin, the problem seems insurmountable. To help deal with the influx of data the BLM has decided to focus on 40 of the incursions in Arrastre Canyon and they have asked Friends of Juniper Flats to help with this effort. We are to find the 40 incursion sites, take a photo from a specified angle and distance, and record the “attributes” that we find. We then send the data to the BLM intern in charge of the project.
An attribute is information about the geographical feature that is entered in a database linked to the mapped feature for analysis at a later date. The attributes for this project include the width of the incursion, the current use of the incursion (low, medium, high or none) and much more. The BLM will use the information to help determine the upward or downward trend of OHV riding off designated routes and whether or not their recent route signing effort is effective in encouraging riders to stay on the signed trails.
Vehicle trails in Arrastre Canyon are all “single track” for motorcycle use. The grant money was used in part to adequately sign the open routes and install red closed signs at all illegal incursions. Unfortunately, the windy location and thin soils make this a more constant effort rather than do it once and leave it alone! While monitoring the incursion sites, we help maintain the signs, pounding them in again when they are fallen, and replacing them when they are damaged.
In the grant application, BLM identified 6 specific incursions for restoration. BLM invited the public to a restoration workshop on Jan 28, 2017 (Volunteer Day Jan 28, 2017 ). In addition to two BLM staff members and one USFS staff member, there were about 9 volunteers helping with this project. We restored an incursion next to the motorcycle trail JF3355M above Milpas Highlands. This trail had been split due to excessive erosion. We anticipate more opportunities to help restore other incursions.
Would you like to join our Volunteer Team?
The volunteer work that we do is much like a treasure hunt or geocache search! We have tasks for volunteers of all levels of skill and time commitment. Volunteers can hike, ride a horse or dirt bike to help monitor the incursions in Arrastre Canyon. We have assignments for the physically fit to the easy riders!
For the easy riders there are areas of Juniper Flats that can be monitored from the comfort of a 4×4 vehicle. These monitoring routes include the 3 roads that surround Arrastre Canyon- Coxey Truck Trail (JF3255), Powerline Road (JF3330) and Grapevine Canyon Rd. (JF3225/JF3223).
For more leisurely hikers a few of he 40 sample sites are within a mile or two of a parking spot.
For those seeking a great cardio workout there are many steep hills and the motorcycle trails are eroded and rutted. Hiking in Arrastre Canyon is strenuous.
On each monitoring trip team members read maps, carry tools (to fix fences and pound in route signs) and record observations using strict protocols developed by the BLM.
If you can contribute a day a month or more, please contact Friends of Juniper Flats to join our monitoring efforts. You may email FOJF2@yahoo.com or complete the form below.