BLM finalizes new management plan for huge tracts of public land in north-central Colorado

Greater sage-grouse get special protection

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A new BLM resource management plan in place for public lands in Grand, Summit, Larimer, Jackson and Eagle counties.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Bureau of Land Management has finalized a new plan for about 378,000 acres of public lands in Grand, Jackson, Summit, Larimer and Eagle counties, managed by the agency’s Kremmling office. The plan also covers management of 653,500 acres of subsurface mineral rights.

The new resource management plan includes a master leasing plan for North Park aimed at balancing oil and gas drilling with resource protection and recreation.

The North Park master leasing plan covers 390,600 acres of federal subsurface mineral rights, with about 160,000 already leased for drilling. Nearly 200,000 acres are managed under rules that regulate surface disturbance from drilling. About  321,200 acres are covered by timing limitations that protect sensitive resources at sensitive times.

The plan protects more than 100,000 acres of core habitat for mule deer, elk, greater sage-grouse and other wildlife to address resource concerns. It designates eight Areas of Critical Environmental Concern totaling 9,668 acres to protect rare plants, paleontological and cultural resources, and fish and wildlife habitat.

The plan also includes an extensive travel management plan that provides 1,637 miles of roads and trails, along with two designated off-highway vehicle open “play areas.”

Also included is a stakeholder-guided vision for managing the Upper Colorado River in a way that protects its wild and scenic values.

Eight areas in Jackson County and six more in Grand County have been designated as wildlife core areas to protect good habitat for sage-grouse, elk, mule deer and other species.

To try and protect dwindling greater sage-grouse, the BLM plan  allows no more than five percent of the surface area within greater sage-grouse core areas (123,000 acres) to be disturbed at any one time. It bars surface occupancy or use within a 0.6 mile radius of Greater sage-grouse leks and  prohibits surface use from March 1 to July 15 in suitable nesting habitat within a 4-mile radius of active leks or mapped nesting habitat.

The Kremmling Field Office Approved RMP and Record of Decision is available at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/kfo.html.

The BLM will amend both Approved RMPs to incorporate revised management of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat upon completion of the Northwest Colorado Greater Sage-Grouse sub-regional planning effort.

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