Mesa County sending road concerns to BLM
Monday is the deadline for submitting comments to the Bureau of Land Management about its Grand Junction Field Office Draft Resource Management Plan.
The plan outlines four possible plans for managing BLM land in Mesa County. The plans focus on keeping operations the way they are, altering operations to err on the side of conservation, changing operations to provide more access to recreation, or striking a balance between preservation and recreation.
After receiving numerous comments from citizens about the plan, Mesa County personnel decided to compile the comments and submit them to the BLM this Friday, along with a letter summarizing community concerns. Most of those concerns address the BLM’s plans to close or change management of numerous roads and trails in the county. The county would like to see about 800 miles of those routes restored in the next draft of the plan based on citizen input, according to Mesa County Public Works Director Pete Baier.
Mesa County commissioners were briefed Monday on the letter the county plans to send to the BLM. About a dozen audience members at Monday’s meeting offered public comment. Loma resident Tom Derryberry said he worries road closures will hurt tourism.
“We start closing the trails, start closing the access routes, that money will go somewhere else,” he said.
One community member said he supported the road closures and feared ATV and Jeep use on public lands may negatively impact wildlife and, as a consequence, hunting. Archer Brandon Siegfried disagreed, saying Mesa County is in the top five counties for trophy animals in Colorado.
“The roads we have now have not affected trophy units,” he said.
BLM Grand Junction Field Office Manager Katie Stevens also spoke during public testimony, saying she is anxious to get the comments from Mesa County and start combing through them. That process may take up to a year. A final draft ready for more public comments may be ready sometime in 2014, according to BLM spokesman Chris Joyner.