BLM to hold public meetings on land use plan revision |

BLM to hold public meetings on land use plan revision

Donna GrayGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. As the Bureau of Land Management gears up to revise its 1984 comprehensive land plans for the Glenwood Springs and Kremmling field offices, it’s looking for public comments on what issues should be included in the new plan. Public scoping sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, April 10, in Rifle and Wednesday, April 11, in Carbondale.Much has changed in both field areas in the interim.”Generally (BLM) likes to update or revise them every 15 to 20 years,” said BLM Glenwood Springs community planner Brian Hopkins. “Enough changes in that timeframe. That’s generally what we plan for.”One issue the BLM is not planning to address in depth at this point is oil and gas development, which has taken place primarily in the western portion of the land overseen by the Glenwood Springs field office. Most of the lands designated for development have been leased.”Once an area gets leased it’s leased, that’s what happened here,” Hopkins said. “BLM (land) has been leased, the Roan (Plateau) has been through its process, so from the standpoint that a lot of those decisions have been made or will be made through the Roan planning process, the RMP revision will be less intensive from a gas standpoint.”Issues of interest to BLM in the revision will include recreation, travel management, “visual aesthetics and the urban wildland interface” where growing communities have expanded adjacent to BLM lands creating impacts on wildlife and problems in fighting wildfires.Local conservation groups, however, plan to press BLM to consider growing oil and gas development in its new plan.”We want to get a sense for where they’re headed,” said Wilderness Workshop Executive Director Sloan Shoemaker. “I can make some assumptions based on the pattern we’ve seen that BLM has turned into basically a single-use agency rubber stamping oil and gas permits. We want make sure they don’t forget (other uses) and that they don’t turn over all these lands to oil and gas development.”Shoemaker said his group is also concerned about the degradation of air quality from oil and gas operations especially over the Flat Tops Wilderness Area east of the gas patch in western Garfield County. Wilderness areas and national parks in the state are federally designated as Class One air quality areas.”These are supposed to be pure air,” he said. “Anyone who’s driven up and down I-70 in the past few years is aware of (air) degradation.”Shoemaker also said he’d like to see BLM follow the White River National Forest’s approach to travel management, which it wrote into its revised forest plan several years ago.”Travel management is always a lightning rod issue. We’d like to see BLM designate routes only as the Forest Service did, with some separation of uses where appropriate, so quiet uses are protected.”Western Colorado Congress will also be looking for BLM to consider energy development in its new RMP. “I think that the wildlife management guidelines of the Colorado Mule Deer Association that came up with (Rep.) Dan Gibbs’ House Bill 1298 that requires directional drilling and limits the number of roads to reduce impact wildlife … that would be something we’d like to see BLM address,” said Patrick Barker, community organizer in Glenwood Springs for Western Colorado Congress.BLM will take public comments until May 2. For more information call Joe Stout, planning and environmental coordinator, (970) 724-3003 or go to: Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 16605dgray@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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