Comments indicate many see BLM lands as their backyards |

Comments indicate many see BLM lands as their backyards

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. High public interest in recreation and travel management issues indicate the degree to which area residents regard Bureau of Land Management lands as their backyard playgrounds, a BLM official says.The two issues dominated a recent public scoping process the agency conducted in advance of revising its 1984 management plans for its Glenwood Springs and Kremmling field offices.Travel management and recreation each were the focus of about a quarter of comments. By comparison, only 7 percent of comments focused on energy development, which has been the subject of national debate when it comes to the BLM’s separate planning process regarding management of the Roan Plateau.Energy is far less of an issue in this new planning process because much of the BLM property in question isn’t believed to have high energy development potential, unlike in the case of the Roan. And what land has promise in that regard generally already has been leased for development, said Brian Hopkins, the agency’s lead planner for the new management planning process.

Instead, much of the land that’s the focus of that process is near urban areas where things such as recreational uses are major considerations.”Outside of a few spots, the BLM lands are the backyards of most communities. There’s a lot of interest in people’s backyards that they use on a daily or weekly basis,” Hopkins said.As a result, for example, many comments involving the Carbondale region reflected support for continued access to, and maintenance of, the trails in the Red Hill area and Crown areas, particularly by mountain bikers.The top number of recreation comments regarding the region administered by the Glenwood office focused on how to manage the Thompson Creek area near Carbondale to minimize impacts by rock climbers. Climbers overwhelmingly backed continued access to the area. While some would like access to no longer be limited to nine climbers at a time, there also was approval for keeping the restriction rather than eliminating access.”Some recreationists were opposed to climbing at Thompson Creek, particularly due to concerns over resource degradation related to the climbing bolts that have been placed in the rocks,” the BLM said in a report analyzing its scoping comments.The BLM sought the comments to help it in preparing a range of management alternatives to be analyzed in a draft management plan. Hopkins hopes that plan will be issued in late spring or early summer of next year.The planning process for the two offices is being combined in an attempt to save money. Hopkins said the planning process probably will cost a little more than $2 million.The Glenwood Springs Field Office planning area covers 568,064 acres spread across Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties. Energy concerns specific to those lands made up only 5 percent of the 42 total comments on energy development. About half referred to BLM lands in general, and 43 percent to lands under the Kremmling Field Office’s jurisdiction.By comparison, 113 of 219 comments specific to the Glenwood Springs Field Office had to do with recreational demand and uses, and another 62 pertained to travel management demand and transportation.Travel management issues in general revolved around matters such as motorized versus nonmotorized use on routes and trails, the spread of weeds, and impacts on wildlife. However, concerns specific to the Glenwood office focused more on access, such as closing access points near subdivisions and adding new access points.In total, the BLM received just 105 written submissions containing 766 separate comments. Hopkins said that might be a sign that the agency already is doing a good job addressing management issues. But he said it always hopes for more comments, and people should be more likely to speak up once the draft plan is out and they have specific proposals to consider.More information on the planning process can be found at rmp/co/kfo-gsfo/index.htm.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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