Opinion: Agua Caliente Band land swap not good for the public
"After a quick read of a recent Desert Sun article about the proposed land exchange between the Bureau of Land Management and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, most folks will see nothing wrong with it. But a close read of BLM's environmental assessment, the public will quickly learn the negative part of the deal.

BLM will exchange 5,799 acres public land for 1,470 acres owned by the tribe. Most of that land is remote and has no impact on the public. However, the proposed BLM transfer of sections 16 and 26 of Township 4S4E may have a negative impact on free access to a historic and open trails' system that locals and visitors have enjoyed for generations.

Both those sections are close to populated areas, allowing easy access to trails. Skyline Trail goes through Section 16. Trails in Section 36 are the Araby, Barns, Garstin, Henderson, Shannon, Thielman and Wild Horse. Once those sections leave the public domain, the public will lose control and have no say over the recreational use of that land. As demonstrated in the Indian Canyons, the tribe simply has a different management philosophy than BLM.

Skyline Trail, known internationally as Cactus-to-Clouds Trail, is considered the third most difficult hike in the United States and has a net elevation gain greater than any other summit route in the nation. Hikers from all over come here to enjoy the challenge, often leaving before daylight to complete the hike."

Get the Story:
Gary Lueders: BLM-tribal land sway could take trails out of public domain (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 10/5)

Relevant Documents:
BLM-Agua Caliente Land Exchange EA (July 2010)

Related Stories:
BLM extends comment period on Agua Caliente Band land swap (9/14)

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