BLM finalizes two major land use plans in northwestern Colorado | PostIndependent.com
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BLM finalizes two major land use plans in northwestern Colorado

Bureau of Land Management announced final decisions for two land use plan revisions that will guide management of BLM-administered lands and minerals in northwestern Colorado for the next two decades.

The Records of Decision for the Colorado River Valley Field Office and Kremmling Field Office Resource Management Plan revisions were signed today by BLM Colorado State Director Ruth Welch, bringing to close the nine-year planning processes that involved close coordination with numerous state and local agencies, the public, and other stakeholders.

“Through the significant help we had from our cooperators and the public, we have crafted two Resource Management Plans that provide balanced approach to conserving natural resources while allowing the economic activity so important to local economies,” Welch said.

The plans will provide the overarching framework for managing the lands and minerals under the jurisdiction of each field office for approximately the next two decades.

Colorado River Valley Approved RMP

The Approved Colorado River Valley Field Office RMP addresses management of 505,200 surface acres and 707,200 acres of subsurface mineral estate in Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Pitkin, Rio Blanco and Routt counties.

Key decisions in the Colorado River Valley Approved RMP include designating approximately 680 miles of routes for motorized use and 577 miles for non-motorized use; managing five areas totaling 34,400 acres to protect existing wilderness characteristics, including Thompson Creek and Deep Creek; and recommending Wild and Scenic River designation for the two BLM segments of Deep Creek.

The majority of the 147,500 acres with high potential for oil and natural gas production within the Colorado River Valley Field Office are already leased and, under the Approved RMP, will continue producing. The 98,100 acres closed to future oil and gas leasing in the Approved RMP include State Wildlife Areas, areas managed for wilderness characteristics, municipal boundaries and other designated recreation areas or Areas of Critical Environmental Concern.

The Colorado River Valley Approved RMP manages five areas totaling 34,400 acres for protection of wilderness characteristics in Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties and maintains the four existing Wilderness Study Areas within the field office boundary.

Under the Colorado River Valley Approved RMP, two BLM segments of Deep Creek were determined suitable for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic River System. The U.S. Forest Service has determined two other segments of Deep Creek as suitable. The BLM deferred suitability determinations on two segments of the Colorado River totaling 61 miles to adopt a stakeholder-based management plan designed to support and protect the identified values of the segments while allowing stakeholders to continue to address and meet their needs.

The Colorado River Valley Field Office Approved RMP and Record of Decision is available at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/crvfo.html.

Kremmling Field Office Approved RMP

The Kremmling Approved RMP covers 377,900 surface acres and 653,500 acres of subsurface mineral estate in Grand, Jackson, Summit, Larimer and Eagle counties.

The Kremmling Approved RMP includes the North Park Master Leasing Plan to facilitate the responsible exploration and development of oil and gas resources in North Park while ensuring protection of the area’s resources and resource uses, including air and water quality, wildlife habitat and recreation. The North Park MLP covers a total of 390,600 acres of federal minerals in the Kremmling Field Office. About 159,600 acres are already leased for oil and gas within this MLP area. More than 198,000 acres of the 376,600 acres of federal minerals open to oil and gas leasing within the North Park MLP area are covered by no surface occupancy stipulations, and 321,200 acres are covered by timing limitations that protect sensitive resources at sensitive times.

The planning area also contains approximately 226,015 acres that contain an estimated 1.520 million tons of potentially recoverable coal resources. After the application of the coal unsuitability criteria set forth in the BLM’s regulations, 106,000 of those acres (nearly half) were deemed unsuitable for surface mining based on the presence of habitat for priority species. The remainder of this acreage remains generally available for consideration for surface mining. However, today’s decision is not a leasing decision. Further analysis and public involvement would be required should there be industry interest in coal leasing before any lease could be sold.

The Approved RMP protects more than 100,000 acres of core habitat for mule deer, elk, Greater Sage-Grouse and other wildlife to address resource concerns. It designates eight Areas of Critical Environmental Concern totaling 9,668 acres to protect rare plants, paleontological and cultural resources, and fish and wildlife habitat.

The plan also includes an extensive travel management plan that provides 1,637 miles of roads and trails, along with two designated off-highway vehicle open “play areas.”

The Kremmling Approved RMP adopts the alternative proposed by the Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Stakeholders Group for management of river-related values in the Colorado River corridor from Gore Canyon to Glenwood Canyon. The Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Stakeholders Group represents the interests of Front Range and Western Slope water users, local governments, conservation groups, recreational users and private land owners.

The Kremmling Field Office Approved RMP and Record of Decision is available at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/kfo.html.

The BLM will amend both Approved RMPs to incorporate revised management of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat upon completion of the Northwest Colorado Greater Sage-Grouse sub-regional planning effort.


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