Roan Plateau can be protected as wilderness |

Roan Plateau can be protected as wilderness

Dear Editor,

Your Oct. 2 article on the Roan Plateau inaccurately characterized a recent settlement between the Department of the Interior and the State of Utah concerning the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) wilderness policies.

Under this settlement, local land managers will be able to protect areas with wilderness characteristics through the land-use planning process, such as those currently ongoing on the Roan Plateau. The planning process – a multi-year effort with numerous opportunities for public involvement – is the appropriate tool by which the BLM carries out its multiple-use mandate.

The settlement does, however, recognize that the BLM’s authority to designate Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) has expired, and that BLM may consider information on wilderness characteristics, along with information on other resources, in the land-use planning process.

The BLM may choose to manage lands in their natural condition or provide areas for solitude and primitive and unconfined recreation. But the BLM is not limited to Wilderness Act requirements – the bureau can analyze roadless areas of less than 5,000 acres, for example, for their wilderness characteristics.

An environmentalist quoted in your article claimed that the BLM was “throwing out all that hard work” on Roan Plateau wilderness inventories submitted by various parties. On the contrary, the agency will use this critical information in preparing an upcoming Environmental Impact Statement accompanying the land-use plan, which will describe the range of management alternatives for the area.

This fall, the BLM will release a draft management plan for a 90-day public comment period, which will provide yet another opportunity for public input. No final decisions will be made on the Roan Plateau until next year.

Ron Wenker

Colorado State Director

Bureau of Land Management


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