Comment period open through late April
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Bureau of Land Management is one step closer to finalizing a new management plan for more than 1 million acres of public land in western Colorado.
The draft resource management plan covers public land primarily in Mesa and Garfield counties, with small amounts in Montrose and Rio Blanco counties. All the documents relating to the draft plan, as well as public comment information, are online at this BLM website.
Under the formal federal environmental review process, the agency’s draft version evaluates and discloses the environmental impacts of several alternatives. The BLM’s preferred alternative is touted as balancing resource protection with other uses, including energy development.
Here’s the agency’s description of the preferred alternative:
“Alternative B seeks to balance resources among competing human interests, land uses, and the conservation of natural and cultural resource values, while sustaining the ecological integrity of certain key habitats for plant, wildlife, and fish species. It incorporates a balanced level of protection, restoration, enhancement, and use of resources and services to meet ongoing programs and land uses. Goals and objectives focus on environmental, economic, and social outcomes achieved by strategically addressing demands across the landscape.”
The BLM also crafted an option focused more on environmental sustainability:
“Alternative C emphasizes non-consumptive use and management of resources through protection, restoration, and enhancement, while also providing for multiple uses, including livestock grazing and mineral development. This alternative would establish the greatest number of special designation areas, with specific measures to protect or enhance resource values within these areas. Goals and objectives focus on environmental and social outcomes achieved by sustaining relatively unmodified physical landscapes and natural and cultural resource values for current and future generations.”
The final plan could end up being a combination of the various alternatives, depending on public comments received from the public and other stakeholders.
“We’ve worked hard with our partners to craft a wide range of alternatives for public review and comment,” said Katie Stevens, acting field manager for the Grand Junction Field Office. “We only revise these plans about every two decades, so this is a really important opportunity to make your voice heard about how public lands are managed in the Grand Junction Field Office.”
BLM will host three public open houses to provide the public an opportunity to learn to navigate the document, ask questions, and provide written comment on the Draft. The public can stop by anytime between 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the following locations:
· Jan. 29; Collbran Auditorium, 102 Main St., Collbran
· Jan. 30; DeBeque Community Center, 381 Minter Ave., DeBeque
· Jan. 31; Clarion Inn, 755 Horizon Dr., Grand Junction
· Feb. 5; Gateway Community Center, 42700 Hwy 141, Gateway
· Feb. 7; Fruita Civic Center, 325 Aspen Ave, Fruita
For additional information including how to provide comments or view a copy of the Draft RMP, visit http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo/rmp.html.
The formal 90-day public comment period will begin when the Notice of Availability publishes in the Federal Register, which is currently scheduled for Jan. 25, 2013. Hard copies and CDs will be available after this date as well. The comment period will close on April 25, 2013.
“We welcome all thoughts and comments, but specific comments that go beyond simply stating a preference or position will be particularly useful in helping us refine this Draft into a Proposed RMP,” Stevens said. “Tell us what you think of specific aspects of the alternatives – and why.”
Before including address, phone number, e-mail address, or any other personal identifying information in your comments, be advised that your entire comment, including personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While individuals may request BLM to withhold personal identifying information from public view, the BLM cannot guarantee it will be able to do so.
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands Tagged: | BLM Grand Junction field office, Bureau of Land management, Colorado, plan for BLM lands Grand Junction, Public land