BLM’s GJ-area plan open for comments through April 25 | PostIndependent.com

BLM’s GJ-area plan open for comments through April 25

A four-year process to update the resource management plan for U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands in the far western part of Garfield County, as well as most of Mesa County, is currently in the formal public comment stage.

The management plan for the region covered by the Grand Junction Field Office was last updated in 1987, according to Collin Ewing, planning and environmental coordinator for the region.

“These plans are expected to be revised every 20 years,” Ewing said during a briefing with the Garfield Board of County Commissioners earlier this week.

Although the plan has been amended more than a dozen times since it was last revised, the agency strives to make sure the management plans are kept as up to date as possible, he said.

The management plan affects some 322,000 acres of BLM land in the far western part Garfield County north of the Mesa County line. That includes more than 33,000 acres of split estate lands, where the federal government owns the surface land and the mineral rights are privately owned, Ewing said.

The Grand Junction resource area also includes nearly 722,000 acres in Mesa County, plus 17,100 acres in Montrose County and a small section of Rio Blanco County.

A preferred alternative calls for a balanced approach to managing the BLM lands within the resource area, taking both conservation measures and private resource use and development into consideration.

The plan covers all types of uses, including travel and recreation management, energy development, wildlife protections, wild and scenic designations and lands with wilderness characteristics.

“While one of the alternatives is labeled as the preferred alternative at this point, none of the alternatives represents the final decision,” Ewing said.

The formal public comment period remains open through April 25, and those comments will be used to help the BLM further develop the plan and do a final environmental review later this year. A final decision is not expected until late 2014.

To review the plan and submit comments, visit http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo/rmp/ rmp.html.

The Grand Junction area resource plan is one of several BLM management plans currently being updated in northwest Colorado, including plans specific to oil and gas leasing, sage grouse conservation and travel management plans.

Garfield County commissioners asked to have a work session with BLM officials to discuss some of the mapping being used to develop the resource management plan. That meeting is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 27 at the BLM office in Grand Junction.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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