Input sought for BLM White River office OHV areas
MEEKER — The Bureau of Land Management is seeking community feedback regarding four off-highway vehicle open areas in Northwest Colorado.
Earlier this month, BLM released the preliminary travel area alternatives for the Travel and Transportation Resource Management Plan Amendment for the White River Field Office. Preliminary alternatives determine which portions of the field office’s purview — nearly 1.5 million acres of BLM land — would be open to cross-country motorized and mechanized use, which would be limited to designated routes and would be closed to motorized and mechanized vehicles.
BLM will host site tours for the public at four sites: 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 7 at the LO7 Hill area near Meeker; 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sept. 8 in the North Dinosaur area near Rangely; from 11 a.m. to noon Sept. 8 in the North Rangely area; and from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Rangely Rock Crawling Park.
Exact meeting spots will be provided by White River Field Office.
Interested parties will traverse the sites to determine which areas are best to remain open to vehicle access.
David Boyd, public affairs specialist for the BLM’s Northwest Colorado District, said the goal is to inventory the many routes and trails within the landscape in the process of designating which should stay open, limited or closed.
“These areas we’re looking at are already getting a lot of use,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure we have a good range of possibilities before we go into the more detailed and an environmental assessment.”
According to documentation in the management plan — available for the public online at http://bit.ly/2aLnDKx — federal BLM property includes 1,151,100 acres in Rio Blanco County, 232,700 acres in Moffat County and 74,300 in Garfield County for a total 1,458,100 acres.
In its entirety, the planning area includes sections overseen by federal agencies — Dinosaur National Monument and White River National Forest — as well as state organizations, such as Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado State Parks and Colorado State Land Board.
A total 705,200 acres of private land across the three counties and 200 acres of county-owned land in Rio Blanco are also included in the planning area for a total 2,675,600 acres.
Alternative plans currently vary in the kinds of actions that might be taken, ranging from no changes to current area management to a more complex determination of designated routes.
BLM also will host two public open house meetings about preliminary alternatives for OHV open areas, the first of which is 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 30 in Meeker at the Public Library, 490 Main St.. Another will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at Rangely’s Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation Center, 611 S. Stanolind Ave.
Comments are advised to be submitted by Sept. 30, 2016 and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Heather Sauls, BLM White River Field Office, 220 East Market St., Meeker, CO 81641.
Following the comment period, area designations will continue to be worked out through 2017.
As a staff representative for the Colorado Northwestern Community College Four-Wheelers Club and rock crawl group, Craig’s David May said he is intrigued to find out more about the travel plan.
“We are definitely interested in these trails down around White River area and Rangely Rock Crawl Park and those out in Rio Blanco County,” he said. “We’ll try to attend as many of these sessions as we can.”
Boyd said the greater the amount of input, the better.
“We’re hoping by getting out there with the public and the different interests, we can look at some of our challenges and get some ideas to carry forward,” Boyd said. “We’re not looking to have the solution the day of these meetings, but we want to know what the public thinks. It’s a lot easier having these conversations on the ground than looking at a map.”
For more information, call the White River Field Office at 970-878-3800.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.