View Full Version : NW CO Land Use Plan open for comment!

04-12-2007, 01:33 PM
BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT! Northwest Colorado Draft Land Use Plan Available for Public Review and Comment
Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released a draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (RMP/EIS) for nearly 1.3 million acres in three counties in northwest Colorado for a 90-day public review and comment period. The plans affect lands managed by the BLM's Little Snake Field Office. The planning area is located in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco Counties in northwestern Colorado.
An RMP can be compared to a county master plan where management direction and objectives are defined for specific resources and areas. They address issues including livestock grazing, recreation, wildlife habitat, off-highway vehicle use, camping and even energy and mineral development. The document contains a preferred alternative as well as a range of other management alternatives. Each draft plan includes a draft EIS which analyzes the environmental effects of each planning alternative.
The DRMP/DEIS presents a total of four alternatives which takes into consideration comments received by other governmental agencies, public organizations, state, tribal entities and interested individuals. Public collaboration through the scoping process led to shaping of issues covering recreation, wildlife, minerals, cultural resources, grazing, land tenure, designation of areas of critical environmental concern (ACEC), access to public lands and other topics. The DRMP/DEIS analyzes alternatives to resolve management issues, determines management objectives and actions, and establishes monitoring methods to facilitate multiple use and sustained yield management for the entire planning area.
Your comments and suggestions are critical at this stage in the new RMP development. The BLM will need to know what part of the preferred alternative you support and what part you oppose. Also, BLM needs to know what parts of the other alternatives should be included in the final plan and which parts of the other alternatives should NOT be in the final plan.
All comments received by BLM will be considered during BLM's decision-making process, but only specific comments will be addressed in the Final EIS/Proposed RMP. Please submit comments on the Draft RMP/EIS by May 16, 2007, which ends the 90-day public review period.
The documents are available at http://www.co.blm.gov/lsra/rmp/index.htm (http://www.sharetrails.org/alertlist/redirect.cfm?ID=1780&MID=513&LID=41). Compact disc copies are also available by contacting Jeremy Casterson, BLM Little Snake Field Office, 455 Emerson Street, Craig, CO, 81625 or by calling by (970) 826-5000, or by e-mail at jeremy_casterson@blm.gov. Please be sure and include a mailing address where they can send the CD.
Written comments should be sent to:
Jeremy Casterson
Bureau of Land Management
Little Snake Field Office
455 Emerson Street
Craig CO 81625
Email comments should be sent to: colsrmp@blm.gov
Thanks in advance for your support,
Brian Hawthorne
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102

04-12-2007, 04:11 PM
Thanks for the heads up Bill, I find myself reading information and that's about all. But I'd like to stress to you that I do value you passing on information.

04-12-2007, 04:46 PM
bill, any clue on trails that would be affected, or how? what kind of comments should we write? i can wing it:D

04-16-2007, 09:21 AM
Some admittedly limited background:
I am seeing a lot of pressure related to the Vermillion Basin area from green organizations against oil and gas development (which I generally support, within reason). However these same action alerts also decry OHV use in the area.

The document to 'hit' is:

Alternative A is no action (always required). Very little mitigation of resource development impact.

Alternative B is likewise very little development mitigation, but more than Alternative A. However, BLM would apply conditions of approval (COA), as needed, through site-specific analysis before authorization. Area protections, such as designations as areas of critical environmental concern (ACEC) would be removed from areas so designated currently, and no new such areas would be recommended. No wild and scenic river (WSR) segments would be recommended as suitable for designation. Opportunities for “unmanaged” motorized recreational experiences would increase where fewer off-highway vehicle (OHV) areas are limited or closed. With this alternative, unlike Alternative A, areas designated as no surface occupancy (NSO) for oil and gas would also be designated as no ground disturbance (NGD) for other uses.

Alternative C, the preferred alternative, balances conservation and resource development with preference given to conservation. Adaptive management criteria would be used to prioritize implementation planning in areas with the greatest need for it (this seems reasonable to me, allowing the land manager to make decisions based on conditions rather than regulation). There would be an increase in the areas closed to or with limitations on OHV use, but there would also be some open OHV areas. However, be aware that the way this is worded means loss of trail/road miles. I have not had a chance to review what routes would be affected, but your comments should emphasize that losing trail miles is not good management in the face of increasing OHV demand. Emphasize conservation, but underscore that closing routes increases the impact on remaining open routes - NOT GOOD). The restrictions to limit vehicle use to existing roads and trails is, however, a good and necessary restriction.

I would recommend in your comment letters to generally support Alternative C, while emphasizing the need for ADDITIONAL, not reduced, OHV routes in the area to help mitigate per-mile impacts on existing routes and spread usage where such usage can be accommodated.

Alternative D is even more restrictive to OHVs and is the alternative supported by the green groups.

04-16-2007, 09:33 AM
This is largely the same email as found elsewhere on this forum, which I adapted and changed from a green group's action alert a few weeks ago.
Hmmm... the BRC seems to be a bit behind on the curve? Ah, well.

Jeremy Casterson
Bureau of Land Management
Little Snake Field Office
455 Emerson Street
Craig CO 81625
Email comments: colsrmp@blm.gov

RE: Little Snake Resource Area management alternatives
Dear Mr. Casterson:

The rugged landscapes and abundant wildlife of the Little Snake Resource Area form a wonderful area and I would like to comment on the draft management plan you are developing.

Of the alternatives proposed, I generally support the BLM's preferred management alternative, Alternative C. This alternative preserves OHV access to these areas, while managing them and preserving areas of special concern. I am extremely concerned, however, about losing even a single mile of OHV routes in the area. With increasing demand (OHV registrations are increasing every year in Colorado, because an aging population wants to visit the backcountry while they can), we cannot afford to concentrate usage on fewer trail and 4x4 routes. Well managed route planning can support OHV usage with a smaller ecological footprint, and I urge the BLM to work with local OHV user groups to partner with them in order to help manage OHV routes in the area. I thoroughly support restricting OHVs to existing routes as Alternative C does, but please resist pressure to reduce trail miles in the area.

Whatever plan the BLM adopts, it should include the following provisions to protect the abundant wildlife and undeveloped landscapes of the region, and access to them for all the public:

- Protect Vermillion Basin and other wild lands by closing them to oil and gas drilling, while preserving access to them by off-highway vehicles, so that the public may see and appreciate them, and be all the more motivated to preserve their qualities.

- Limit oil and gas impacts on sage grouse and critical big game habitat by capping surface disturbance at one well per 640 acres, and requiring best management practices including directional drilling.

- Improve off-highway vehicle management by establishing a designated route system for the entire Little Snake Resource Area. This should not eliminate or significantly reduce the size of the proposed Sand Wash ORV unrestricted "play" area; with recent increases in OHV demand by a growing Colorado population, closing OHV access is short-sighted, as increased usage is concentrated on reduced OHV trail/road miles. This shortsightedness serves the public poorly, as well as the environment.

- Include the reforestry of 400 acres of Douglas Fir from Alternative D.

Opening 93% of the Little Snake Resource Area to oil and gas development, as called for in your proposal, is not a balanced approach. The final management plan should preserve the social and economic fabric of the local communities and the wild, open landscapes of the region by placing special areas off-limits to drilling and ensuring that any energy development is done in a phased manner that limits negative impacts to our air, water and wildlife habitat. And preserving OHV access to these areas is part of preserving the social and economic fabric of the local communities.

Thank you for considering my views, and for protecting the unique and wonderful lands of Northwest Colorado, and our access to them. Please keep me advised of your progress in your decisions.


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