TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – In an effort to protect sage grouse habitat, the Bureau of Land Management wants to remind motorized vehicle users to stay on roads and trails when in the outdoors.

The 2015 Idaho and Southwestern Montana Greater Sage-Grouse Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment require vehicles to stay on roads and trails when travelling on BLM-managed public lands.

"Unmanaged cross country travel can have numerous negative effects to resources including starting wildfires and disturbing the sagebrush steppe landscape," Twin Falls District Manager Mike Courtney said in a prepared statement. "The Plan Amendments limit OHV use to existing roads and trails to help protect the good habitat we have left."

The agency says it has plans to post signs at key public land access locations to remind the public about the changes.

The changes do not affect specifically designated OHV Open Play areas like Deadman southeast of Glenns Ferry or Yahoo south of Hagerman, according to the BLM. Nor do they apply to authorized uses such as emergency actions, range operations or other permitted activities.

The next step in BLM travel management is to compile a travel management plan for site specific areas. The outcome determines which roads and trails will remain open and if any restrictions or closures are necessary to minimize impacts to natural or cultural resources or resolve OHV conflicts.

“We encourage public involvement during this phase of planning to ensure the BLM understands which routes are used by the public and why they are popular,” Courtney said. Contact a BLM field office to determine when this phase of travel planning will be conducted in your area of interest.

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