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New alternative not only plan to consider

Dennis Webb

The Bureau of Land Management plans to propose a preferred draft plan for overseeing the Roan Plateau, but not without some hesitation.The agency had explored trying to lay out five management alternatives without identifying a preferred one, but learned that its planning regulations wouldn’t permit that, said Steve Bennett, associate manager of the BLM’s Glenwood Springs Field Office.”Part of our concern is people focus so much on a preferred alternative that they think that’s it,” Bennett said. “We just wondered at one point there earlier whether it would be better to just not actually not tag one of them as the preferred alternative.”He said he fears that people will think the BLM isn’t open to considering modifying its preferred plan, and perhaps mixing and matching portions of other alternatives, as it works toward settling on a final plan.Garfield County Commissioner John Martin has been involved with the BLM’s work on its draft plan because the county is a cooperating agency in that plan. He said the idea behind not identifying a preference among alternatives was to ensure that all of them receive equal consideration.When the BLM has identified preferred alternatives in other draft management plans, the preferred one becomes the focus of controversy, Martin said.”They’ve been skunked so many times by putting out what they feel is right. Then they take the political heat,” Martin said.Bennett was keeping mum Tuesday on the BLM’s preferred alternative, which the agency hopes to announce Friday. But the agency has indicated it hopes to strike a balance between protecting the plateau and responsibly developing its energy resources.A 2003 BLM study said that nearly 2,000 wells could be drilled on federal land within the plateau planning area, including 335 on the plateau top, if there were relatively few restrictions on drilling. But BLM officials say that because there will be a fair number of restrictions, the actual number of wells its draft plan will recommend will be less than that.A 2003 BLM study said that nearly 2,000 wells could be drilled on federal land within the plateau planning area, including 335 on the plateau top, if there were relatively few restrictions on drilling. But BLM officials say that because there will be a fair number of restrictions, the actual number of wells its draft plan will recommend will be less than that.


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