Big changes proposed for some uses in the popular recreation area; plan also maps out potential oil, gas and coal development areas
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Anglers, boaters and others who recreate along the Upper Colorado River downstream of Kremmling through Gore Canyon and beyond should check out the Colorado River draft management plan, which proposes some major changes to camping and other recreational uses.
The preferred alternative in the draft identifies 625,000 acres that would be open to oil and gas leasing, and about 123,000 acres open to coal leasing.
The Bureau of Land Management released the draft plan and an environmental impact statement last week, triggering a public comment period. The BLM will also host several public meetings next month: Oct. 6 in Silt, Oct. 11 in Eagle and Oct. 12 in Carbondale (see the newsletter at the end of this story for more details). The BLM’s home page for the plan is online here.
The draft plan covers about 505,000 acres of BLM lands and, crucially, the underlying mineral estates in the region spanning Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Pitkin, Routt and a small slice of Rio Blanco counties. An executive summary and the first few chapters of the draft plan are online here.
The draft plan includes four scenarios, including a no-action alternative that would continue current management practices.
Alternative B is the BLM’s preferred alternative and is presented as a a middle of the road approach: A strategic mix of conservation and resource use, allocating limited resources among competing interests and the conservation of natural and cultural resource values.
Alternative C spells out an option that would focus more on resource protection and restoration to sustain and restore the ecological integrity of habitats for plants, wildlife and fish.
Alternative D emphasizes resource use by expanding existing uses and accommodating new uses, while trying to protect land health.
Under the preferred alternative, the BLM is looking at new camping limits, including a maximum seven-day stay during the busy summer season. Alternative B also includes some proposed closures of existing camping areas, including the open off-highway vehicle area south and east of Wolford Mountain, as well as the Confluence Recreation Site and adjacent BLM lands.
The preferred alternative also includes new restrictions on shooting, as well as requirements for special permits for some activities in certain recreation areas.
The draft plan also addresses wild and scenic river status for parts of the Colorado River, and calls for various habitat improvement projects, including prescribed burns and other vegetation treatments, as well as protection of big game migration corridors.
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands, rivers, Summit County news Tagged: | Bureau of Land Management Colorado, Colorado, Colorado news, Colorado River, Conservation and Endangered Species, Gore Canyon, Kremmling Colorado, Upper Colorado River BLM plan