A Record of Decision was issued Jan. 28, 2014 by acting Field Manager Shirley Johnson of the Caliente Field Office BLM Ely District, to continue to close Little Ash Springs. The official printed announced read in part, “It is my decision to approve the closure of Ash Springs Recreation Site and implement the Notice of Temporary Closure to Ash Springs Recreation Site as described in the Environmental Assessment associated with the proposal, in accordance with 43 CFR 8364.1, this Decision is in full force effective immediately.”
Johnson told the Record the closure is expected to be temporary. “We don’t want to do it permanently, but under this temporary closure we can close it for up to two years.
“This is the formal process to go through. We didn’t want people in there until we could fix it. They would be at continual risk for personal injury or worse.”
Little Ash, as is better known, to distinguish from Big Ash, which is privately owned, but also closed, is about 1.18 acres in size, and has a locked fence at the entrance.
The Record of Decision from Johnson’s office states further the closure is necessary, “due to extensive modification of a man-made pool and a natural pool by public users that is causing a threat to human safety and degrading habitat for federally listed endangered species. During the temporary closure period the BLM will work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a long-term management plan to determine the type and level of use suitable for the area while protecting the habitat for the federally listed endangered White River springfish. In addition to the endangered springfish, Ash Springs provides habitat for three BLM Nevada sensitive species: Pahranagat naucorid bug, Grated tyronia, and Pahranagat pebblesnail.”
The decision is posted on the BLM Caliente website http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/ely_field_office.html. Or you may call the Caliente office 775-726-8100 with any questions.
Johnson said BLM is now entering a planning phase which started with a public meeting held in December in Alamo. “We still have to figure out what we can do, some legwork yet to do to find out what our options really are.”
There has been some interest to transfer to the recreational site to the County, but Johnson said only Commission chair Ed Higbee has shown a real desire to do that.