Garfield County follows suit on Hubbard Mesa issue |

Garfield County follows suit on Hubbard Mesa issue

A sign riddled with bullet holes stands by the western boundary of Hubbard Mesa open area just east of County Road 244.
Ryan Hoffman / File |

Garfield County commissioners have approved comments to the Bureau of Land Management asking the agency not to try to address recreation conflicts in Hubbard Mesa during the Roan Plateau planning process.

Instead, the letter supports the BLM’s identified preferred alternative in the Roan Plateau draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. That alternative mostly addresses oil and gas leases and a settlement reached in a lawsuit stemming from those leases.

It does not address recreation in Hubbard Mesa, which has become a controversial issue in and around Rifle, with some user groups concerned about safety from errant target shooting, and other groups worried that target shooters who have historically used the area could be unfairly punished.

The county’s request that BLM address recreation issues in Hubbard Mesa outside of the Roan process mirrors comments from the city of Rifle that were approved earlier this month. The county’s comments were drafted after consulting with various stakeholders, including the city and BLM, Kirby Wynn, Garfield County oil and gas liaison, told commissioners Tuesday.

“While Garfield County believes target shooting safety concerns arising from conflicting recreational uses are a serious matter deserving BLM’s attention, we believe the issues should not be addressed within the SEIS,” the county’s letter reads. “Garfield County recommends BLM address Hubbard Mesa recreational user conflict issues through a separate and collaborative process among BLM, Garfield County, City of Rifle, private landowners and recreational users.”

The comments come at the end of the public comments period on the Roan Plateau SEIS. Feb. 18 was the cutoff date for comments. The BLM will now begin the lengthy process of sorting through the public comments. A final draft will emerge from that process, along with a protest period that will eventually be followed by a final decision.

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