Garfield County seeks review of BLM economic study | AspenTimes.com

Garfield County seeks review of BLM economic study

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Garfield County commissioners want to review a study of socioeconomic impacts related to energy development on local BLM lands prior to it being published in a new resource management plan.

The county has questioned some of the economic conditions contained in the draft plan.

In particular, the commissioners say the plan lacks a “credible analysis” of current and future conditions related to natural gas and other resource extraction.

That point was brought up at a recent cooperating agency meeting between U.S. Bureau of Land Management area officials and local county representatives, Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.

“The county looks forward to being able to review the revised socio-economic study when it has been completed in the fall, and prior to publishing the final plan,” the county commissioners reiterated in a letter authorized Aug. 20 to be sent to Steve Bennett, the BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office manager.

The BLM’s draft resource management plan for the area was released last year, and is still in the formal Environmental Impact Statement review process. A final plan is expected in October.

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Garfield County also reminded the BLM of the agency’s mission statement to manage its lands based on the principal of multiple use.

The commissioners also address some of the specific locations included in the BLM plan, including the Grand Hogback, as well as recreation management areas being studied near Silt, and the Crown and Thompson Creek areas near Carbondale.

County commissioners said they are concerned about the potential loss of access to public lands on part of the Grand Hogback that is proposed to be protected as an area of critical environmental concern (ACEC).

“The county believes this property is already sufficiently protected due to the presence of steep slopes and view sheds,” the commissioners’ letter states. “Due to its medium potential for future [resource] extraction, the county would like to see the ACEC designation removed.”

Recreational management on BLM land near Silt and on the Lorax trail west of Carbondale should also give consideration to mechanized use, the commissioners stated in the letter.

Regarding the Crown, a popular mountain biking destination in Pitkin County southeast of Carbondale, the Garfield commissioners said they support requests that it be designated as a recreation management area.

jstroud@postindependent.com