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Hunter weighs in on dunes management plan

June 09, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, weighed in on the Imperial Sand Dunes draft management plan this past week in a meeting with U.S.

Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clark.

The BLM's draft management plan and the environmental study it was based on have been criticized by environmentalists, off-roaders and business people.

The draft plan and study were the subject of a series of public hearings last month in California and Arizona that drew well over 2,000 people. The public was invited to comment on the draft plan orally or in writing.


Hunter met with Clark Wednesday and submitted a letter with his official comments. The Imperial Sand Dunes are within Hunter's congressional district. Hunter's letter states he has three recommendations for the draft.

The plan should be approved with a "no jeopardy opinion" since there is no justification or supporting data in the draft environmental study for using an adaptive management area or buffer zone to restrict off-road access, the letter states.

Existing boundaries — Highway 78 to the north, Interstate 8 to the

south, a canal to the west and railroad tracks to the east — act as a natural buffer zone, Hunter's letter states.

The letter also states the management plan must consider socio-economic impacts to Hunter's congressional district. Imperial Sand Dunes users contribute millions of dollars to Imperial County.

Hunter also suggests extending Gecko Road off Highway 78, which would

create more areas for camping, as suggested in the 1987 draft management plan.

June 28 is the last day to submit written comments on the draft. For more information on submitting comments, contact Jim Komatinsky at the

El Centro office of the BLM at 337-4400 or on the web at

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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