BLM announces decision on Clear Creek closure

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The entrance to the Clear Creek Management Area in south San Benito County has a sign indicating that it is closed to the public. The area has been closed since May 2008.

Six years after closing off the popular off-road attraction in San Benito County, Clear Creek Management Area, the Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday it had released its decision calling for most of the public lands to remain closed permanently.
The federal government six years ago closed Clear Creek due to studies concluding there were dangerous levels of asbestos exposure on its trails. It stirred an uproar from the off-road community and county government leaders hoping to gain back the park’s economic benefits, namely the 35,000 annual visitors before Clear Creek’s closure.
Below is the full statement from the BLM:
The Bureau of Land Management Hollister Field Office has released the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) Resource Management Plan (RMP).
The BLM’s notice of availability for the CCMA ROD marks the beginning of a 30-day appeal period for the public to challenge implementation decisions in the document. The temporary closure order for CCMA that was issued on May 1, 2008, will remain in effect until the end of the 30-day appeal period on March 14, 2014.
Under the ROD and approved RMP, highway licensed vehicles are allowed on 32 miles of major roads in the Serpentine ACEC to provide access to key areas of interest for non-motorized recreation. Access into the Serpentine ACEC is authorized by permit only, with vehicle touring limited to five days per year and pedestrian activity limited to 12 days per year.“This decision marks a starting point that will reopen the management area to public use and begin to evaluate future use through an adaptive management approach” said Rick Cooper, BLM Hollister Field Office manager.
Based on the concerns regarding the health risks of naturally occurring asbestos, criteria were added to the management plan to allow the BLM to reassess land use plan decisions if significant new information on human health risks from exposure to airborne asbestos fibers becomes available.
BLM will continue to work with California State Parks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to identify opportunities for activity-based studies on asbestos exposure to recreational users in the Serpentine ACEC portion of the CCMA.   BLM will also consult with the BLM Central California Resource Advisory Council to assist with plan implementation and adaptive management.
The CCMA ROD and approved RMP is available for review at the BLM Hollister Field Office, 20 Hamilton Court, Hollister, CA 95023; and on-line at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/hollister/clear_creek_management_area/CCMA_RMP.html.
For additional information contact the Hollister Field Office at (831) 630-5000.

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