BLM to revise land-use plan
Aspen, CO ColoradoGLENWOOD SPRINGS Times have changed in Garfield County since the Bureau of Land Management prepared its last land-use plan in 1984. In recognition of the tremendous growth, both in population, housing and economy in the region, the BLM is about to completely revise that plan. The resource management plan (RMP) guides all land-use decisions in the Glenwood Springs Field Office, which covers parts of Garfield, Eagle, Mesa, Routt and Pitkin counties. A concurrent process will involve revising the RMP for the Kremmling Field Office.”It’s a different world (now),” said BLM community planner Brian Hopkins.Parts of the plan have been changed over the years. Most recently, BLM amended the RMP to cover oil and gas development on the Roan Plateau. The new revision will be broader in scope.”This will be a full revision. We’ll look at all the programs,” from grazing to air quality to recreation, Hopkins said.What may not be a big part of the revision is energy development, he said. “Once the Roan Plateau (RMP) gets done a lot of the energy issues west of Silt” will be addressed.The plan will work much like an environmental statement with consideration of environmental and other effects on the lands and resources of the Glenwood Springs Field Office area. Alternative management scenarios will be developed with a preferred alternative identified.”There will be numerous opportunities for the public to participate in the planning process,” he said.The BLM will focus on the issues particular to this field office, notably the fact that federal land is interspersed with private, creating two-way impacts arising from new subdivisions pushing wildlife onto BLM lands, and more recreation impacts on BLM property as new people move into the area.”Eighty percent of our field office is within one mile of private property. … There are new demands on public lands,” Hopkins said. “People value them for aesthetics and open space and wildlife.”Part of the planning process will be to query residents about how they value public lands.Other issues likely to be addressed in the plan are the impacts of wildfires, as well as travel management – what BLM lands should remain open and to what kinds of vehicles.While the expected two-year process of revising the RMP is not yet formally under way, preparations are taking place.The formal process will begin when a Notice of Intent to revise the plan is published in the Federal Register. Then, the BLM will schedule public “scoping” meetings that will give people an opportunity to tell the agency what should be considered in the revision process. Hopkins said those meetings will be scheduled for February or March.Local governments, state and other federal agencies will be invited to take part in the planning as cooperating agencies. Many local governments as well as the agencies within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources took part in the planning effort for the Roan Plateau in 2005.”We want them involved early and up front in the planning process. We want to incorporate their knowledge,” Hopkins said. “They know their constituencies.”Wilderness Workshop executive director Sloan Shoemaker worries the revised plan will not stem the tide of energy development on BLM land.”BLM is under an executive order to expedite oil and gas resources. Their (staff) resources will be nearly completely sucked up by energy development … to the exclusion of other management responsibilities,” he said.”I’d certainly like to see BLM return to its multiple-use mandate instead of being a single-use (agency),” he said.He also hopes the BLM will take energy impacts into consideration in the plan revision.”I’d like to see BLM evaluate how oil and gas affects the airshed in the Grand River Valley and the Class I airshed (highest quality) on the Flat Tops.”
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