The theme for this year’s Annual Meeting is “The Future of the Juniper Flats Area”. On Saturday, September 30 the Friends of Juniper Flats will celebrate successes from another year of work for the Juniper Flats Area and discuss the future of the area. Everyone who is interested in this area is encouraged to attend.
Meeting time and place
The meeting will be held at Rock Springs Ranch, 7499 Bowen Ranch Road, Apple Valley, CA from 1-3pm on Saturday September 30, 2017. The meeting follows the National Public Lands Day (NPLD) Event scheduled by the BLM for the Juniper Flats Area. If you participate in the NPLD event, bring your own picnic lunch including water. There is no potable water at the ranch. Desserts will be served and we will have a nature/natural history exchange – nature books, native seeds, plants etc.
To get to Rock Springs Ranch from Apple Valley take Bear Valley Road to Central Rd. and go south. From Central turn east onto Ocotillo.
Turn south onto Bowen Ranch Road (graded dirt road). Continue for about 3 miles to the intersection with Coxey Truck Trail and continue for about a mile on Bowen Ranch Road. Rock Springs Ranch is on the left. Please drive slowly in the driveway.
The Future of the Juniper Flats Area
This area is included in the new West Mojave ( WEMO ) Route Designation project. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) began the process for route designation over a decade ago. The 2006 version of the plan ended in a lawsuit and the court ordered the BLM to develop a new route designation plan. The new draft plan is due to be released in January 2018 for public comment.
“Vision Statement” needed
If you appreciate the natural scenery, flora, fauna and historic values Friends of Juniper Flats encourage you to become engaged in the new WEMO Route Designation plan. To make this plan acceptable for everyone, we believe there needs to be a comprehensive “vision statement” for the area. A well thought out ” Vision Statement ” which is developed by all stakeholders will help the BLM in their efforts to manage the area to conserve the natural and historic values while pursuing their multiple-use mandate. The process for conservation of the area began many decades ago, and has recently been updated through the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan ( DRECP ). In this document part of the Juniper Flats Area is included in the BLM National Conservation Lands . The rest of the area is considered an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and an important wildlife corridor with specific disturbance cap limits. In the DRECP map below, “58” refers to the land considered National Conservation Lands, and the diagonal lines denote the ACEC and wildlife corridor.
Please consider the first step in the process and join the conversation at Rock Springs Ranch on Sept 30, 2017.
Not just motorized trails
To support the BLM mandate for multiple use and to encourage low impact recreation, the Friends of Juniper Flats have requested BLM to include hiking trails in the new Route Designation Plan. This year we mapped some of the trails that are used for hiking and included them in our Juniper Flats Area Hiking Trails Proposal. We presented this proposal to Katrina Symons, BLM Barstow Office Field Manager, on September 7, 2017. Many of the trails used for hiking are currently not recognized by the BLM and the proposal will need a lot of support from people who like to hike. Only with a designation for hiking can these trails be managed and maintained for hiking.
Friends of Juniper Flats Hiking Trail proposal includes use of the trails by equestrians. Motorized and mechanized use would not be allowed, because the area is prone to erosion and the wheels of vehicles create ruts that damage the trails. Such use demands excessive maintenance and resources (staff and money!).
There are many other interests in the area which may not be included in the BLM draft plan and which will need to be addressed during the comment period in January/February 2018. This may include private property interests, equestrian use, mountain biking, bird watching, wildflower viewing, wildlife appreciation and much more. A strong “Vision Statement” developed by many individuals and groups with varied interests would help ensure the BLM plan reflects public input as well as a manageable and sustainable route network.
Please join us if you have an interest in the Juniper Flats Area!