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BLM seeks public comment on Gila River recreation area near Arizona border

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public input on a recreation plan for the Gila River in southwest New Mexico, not far from the Arizona border.

The BLM is in the process of preparing an environmental report for the Gila Lower Box Recreation Area.

It’s just upstream from the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area near Safford. The agency wants to improve recreation by developing trailheads, fencing, signs and other infrastructure to help protect wildlife habitat and other resources.

"This is kind of an area that hasn’t really been developed at all for recreation," said Allie Bettinger of the BLM. "There’s maybe one or two trails out there but not much else, and it’s increasingly gotten more popular with the public," Bettinger said.

The public comment period will be open through November.

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Ron Dungan has lived in Arizona for more than 35 years. He has worked as a reporter, construction worker, copy editor, designer and freelance writer. He's a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the undergraduate Writers’ Workshop, and has a master’s in history from Arizona State University.Dungan was an outdoors reporter and member of the storyteller team at the Arizona Republic, where he won several awards, and was a contributor on a border project that won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting.When not working, Dungan enjoys books, gardening, hanging out with his German shorthaired pointer, backpacking and fly-fishing. He's a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and Iowa Hawkeyes.