County to keep hand in Roan Plateau planning |

County to keep hand in Roan Plateau planning

Lynn BurtonStaff Writer

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Garfield County has logged on as one of four governmental review agencies for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to consider when the federal agency drafts its Roan Plateau management plan later this year.”I think this is the right step for us to take right now,” said Garfield County Commission Chairman John Martin at Monday’s commission meeting.Glenwood Springs resident Steve Smith complimented the commissioners for their interest in the Roan Plateau, which the federal government has targeted for oil and gas exploration.”I’m sure there are plenty of people in the area with plenty to say,” Smith told the commissioners. “Thank you for starting the process in this way.”At issue is 73,600 acres of BLM land northwest of Rifle that the agency will administer under a management plan it is currently working on.The BLM has already drafted six alternatives, which range from allowing oil and gas leasing in the least restrictive manner, to preserving the area’s natural character and preserving the present recreational setting and experience.Public comment on the BLM’s six alternatives ended in November, but Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, the city of Rifle and the Colorado Division of Natural Resources will continue offering input.The agency expects to reach a final decision on the Roan Plateau management by this fall.Garfield County planner Randy Russell asked the commissioners to approve a letter to the BLM that outlines these areas of concern:-Context. Russell called for an overview of present leasing and drilling, estimated gas reserves and a 30-year projection for exploration and gas production to be considered in making management decisions for the plateau.-Mapping and boundaries. Parts of the BLM’s Roan Plateau maps are too detailed for management purposes, Russell said. “Very complex boundaries for resource concern areas need to be `softened and consolidated’ into understandable and defensible management enforcement units, so users know what is allowed and expected.”Russell also noted that the county may wish to hold its own public hearings on Roan Plateau management and use public comment to shape the county’s recommendations. His letter urged BLM staff to work with the county in that process.The Garfield County commissioners approved Russell’s letter, and authorized him to send it to the Bureau of Land Management’s Glenwood Springs field office.Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext.

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