County commissioners preparing comments on BLM resource plan |

County commissioners preparing comments on BLM resource plan

Map courtesy U.S. Bureau of Land ManagementThis map shows the boundaries of the Bureau of Land Management's Colorado River Valley field area. Areas in yellow are BLM lands, for which a new long-term management plan is being developed. Areas in green are national forest, areas in turquoise are state land, and areas in white are private land.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – No single alternative outlined in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s local resource area management plan revision, including the preferred alternative, is acceptable to Garfield County as currently written.

Instead, county commissioners, in a draft letter they are preparing to send to officials in the BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office, suggests a mix-and-match approach.

“Garfield County does not fully support any of these alternatives and recommends the BLM consider piecing together a variety of sections from the current alternatives to create a new proposed alternative …,” reads a portion of the draft letter to BLM Field Manager Steven Bennett in Silt.

“The county’s paramount concern is that none of the alternatives provide an appropriate level of stewardship of areas worthy of conservation, and at the same time providing sufficient opportunity for people to use and/or develop resources within [resource area],” the letter states.

The Garfield Board of County Commissioners reviewed the draft letter on Monday, and is expected to finalize it at the regular Jan. 16 meeting.

The new deadline for public and local government comments on the revised resource management plan is Jan. 17, which was extended from mid-December.

“One of the big issues in this is how it relates to Garfield County and the way we operate, and what we would like to see regarding BLM land,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who worked with county building and planning director Fred Jarman to draft the letter.

Specifically, he said the county wants a greater emphasis on allowing multiple uses of BLM lands. That ranges from natural gas development and other resource extraction, to grazing, recreation and protections in environmentally sensitive areas, he said.

The BLM is in the process of updating the existing 1984 Glenwood Springs (now Colorado River Valley) Resource Area Resource Management Plan.

The new document will guide the way BLM-administered public lands in the resource area will be managed into the future. The resource area includes about 504,900 acres of BLM land throughout most of Garfield and Eagle counties, all BLM land in Pitkin County and BLM land in some small sections of Rio Blanco, Routt and Mesa counties.

A 73,602-acre portion of the resource area between Rifle and Parachute is covered under a separate Roan Plateau Resource Management Plan amendment.

For the resource management plan, the BLM developed four alternatives, including the required “no action” Alternative A, and three action alternatives.

Alternative B is the preferred alternative arrived at during the process to date. It focuses on a mixed-use management approach.

Alternative C would have a conservation emphasis, and Alternative D would emphasize more resource development.

Accommodating natural gas development where appropriate is also important to Garfield County, the commissioners’ draft letter states.

“Preserving the ability for the oil and gas industry to operate, extract and explore is of great importance to Garfield County due to the positive economic impacts this industry has within the county,” the letter reads in its draft form.

“Garfield County supports limitations on this industry only when the surface or subsurface use may directly conflict with a property that has unique environmental or recreational values,” it also states.

While the formal comment period on the BLM plan revision ends Jan. 17, the affected counties and other agencies will have an opportunity to remain involved before a final plan is adopted.

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