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TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Today, the Bureau of Land Management Burley Field Office released a draft plan that analyzes alternatives to address adverse impacts to cultural resources caused by off-highway vehicle use and rock climbing on basalt cliffs. The plan’s focus area is the American Falls Archaeological District and a portion of the Lake Channel area along the Snake River in southern Idaho.

The draft plan aims to ensure compliance with laws, regulations and policies that apply to management of the Archaeological District and cultural resources on public lands. The BLM will accept comments on the alternatives analyzed in the Cedar Fields Plan Amendment Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Monument Resource Management Plan until Nov. 10, 2021. The BLM will use the comments to finalize the plan.

Working with partners and cooperating agencies that include the Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, the Bureau of Reclamation, Power County, the former Twin Falls District Resource Advisory Council, local and national climbing organizations, and others, the BLM considered five alternatives to balance resource use with resource protection.

The draft environmental impact statement and preferred alternative were developed in part by conducting nation-to-nation consultations with the Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. The preferred alternative would redirect rock climbing and off-highway vehicle use to other nearby BLM and state-managed lands, thereby offering better protection to the cultural and sacred resources the Archaeological District was designated to conserve.

“For over 12,000 years, the Shoshone, Bannock and Paiute peoples occupied these lands and the significance of the Archaeological District to these Tribes cannot be overstated,” said Mike Courtney, BLM Twin Falls District Manager. “The BLM is committed to balancing protection of cultural and sacred values with compatible recreation uses. Redirecting rock climbing and off-highway vehicle use away from just 6 percent of the public lands in the area will enable the agency to comply with laws, policies, and regulations that apply to management of the archaeological district and cultural resources on public lands.”

The Shoshone, Bannock, and Paiute Tribes used this area as a winter campsite for thousands of years, leaving a long archaeological record that became the basis for the area’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. The BLM initiated the environmental impact statement in 2011 to update the Monument Resource Management Plan in response to impacts from increasing recreation use on the area’s significant cultural resources and the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office’s determination of adverse impacts.

The draft environmental impact statement analyzes alternatives developed by the former Twin Falls District Resource Advisory Council, Power County and the East Idaho Climbers Coalition. The BLM welcomes comments on the proposed plan amendment, the range of alternatives, and the impact analysis in the draft. To ensure that written comments will be considered, the BLM must receive them by Nov. 10, 2021. Two public comment meetings will be held to collect comments as well. An in-person open house will be held on Aug. 31, at the American Falls School District office, room #4 from 4 — 6 p.m. The second meeting will be a virtual meeting on Sept. 14, 2021, held online from 4 to 6 p.m. Please email blm_id_monument for more information on how to join the online forum in September.

Please submit comments related to the Cedar Fields Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Resource Management Plan amendments by any of the following methods:

email: blm_id_ monumentcassiar

fax: 208-677-6699

mail: BLM Burley Field Office, 15 East 200 South, Burley, ID 83318

Copies of these Draft documents are available in the Burley Field Office at the above address and online at the URL listed above.

Before including your address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Please be aware that Cache Valley Publishing does not endorse, and is not responsible for alleged employment offers in the comments.

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