Dominguez-Escalante plan includes some road closures in Cactus Park
The management plan for the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area could result in road closures, particularly in the Cactus Park area, intended to result in a usable network of roads and trails.
The idea is to make Cactus Park easy to negotiate, even for newcomers to the area but familiar in general with national conservation areas, officials said.
The Grand Junction Office of the Bureau of Land Management on Friday unveiled the draft resource management plan for the 210,000-acre conservation area south and east of Grand Junction in Mesa, Delta and Montrose counties.
The plan, once adopted, is to guide management of the conservation area for the next two decades and the draft was put together after 24 public meetings involving various interest groups, Katie Stevens, BLM field office manager, told the editorial board of The Daily Sentinel.
Friday marked the beginning of the 90-day public-comment period on the draft, which will include two public meetings in June. The deadline for comments is Aug. 15 and a proposed plan is due next May.
The conservation area contains 140 miles of county roads that won’t be affected, Stevens said.
About 62 percent of the existing roads will remain “open for public travel of some sort,” she said.
The draft plan and maps can be found on the web at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo.html. By following the links to the Dominguez-Escalante plan, viewers can comment on aspects of the plan as they view them.
“We understand (Cactus Park) is a very important area for motorized recreation,” Stevens said, noting there is a need to close dead-end and redundant routes.
Other aspects of the plan will address the need to limit camping to designated sites along the Gunnison River and a prohibition of gold mining, which has been conducted on a recreational basis.
Another option under the plan would call for the establishment of “heritage sites” that would reflect the history of the region, including homesteads.
The plan includes four alternatives and the fifth, preferred alternative, which was crafted to guide the agency to best meet 14 goals identified in the draft plan and to balance resource protection with uses such as recreation and grazing.
Though the BLM has defined a preferred alternative, that doesn’t mean the agency has settled on the final aspects of the management plan, officials said, urging participation during the comment period.
The open houses will be June 17 in the Colorado Mesa University Center and June 19 at the Bill Heddles Recreation Center in Delta. Both meetings will be from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.