Middle ground sought in BLM’s new draft plan

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking to strike a middle ground in a draft preferred alternative for managing travel, energy development, protection of wildlife and landscapes and other considerations in the Grand Junction area.

The federal agency Monday released its draft resource management plan for lands managed by its Grand Junction Field Office.

The unveiling of a replacement for a 1987 plan will kick off a process of public meetings and comment.

The draft outlines four alternatives, ranging from maintenance of the status quo, to a conservation-oriented 
approach, to one emphasizing use of resources such as 
recreation, livestock grazing, and mineral leasing and development. Its preferred one, designated Alternative B, “seeks to balance resources among competing human interests, land uses, and the conservation of natural and cultural resource values, while sustaining the ecological integrity of certain key habitats for plant, wildlife, and fish species,” according to an executive summary.

For example, it would provide 868,100 acres for motorized use limited to designated routes, compared to 681,900 under the conservation alternative (C), and 939,900 for the one more focused on use (D).

Bicycles would be limited to 897,500 acres of designated routes, versus 694,400 acres under C and 953,200 under D.

The proposal would make about 1.03 million acres open to fluid minerals leasing and exploration, versus 607,600 acres under Alternative C and 1.13 million acres under D.

It would designate 106,000 acres as areas of critical environmental concern, compared to 168,000 under C and 33,200 under D.

The BLM’s final proposal could include elements from multiple alternatives.

The new plan will apply to more than 1 million surface acres and 1.2 million acres of subsurface mineral estate the field office administers primarily in Mesa and Garfield counties, but also in Montrose and Rio Blanco counties.

The agency is planning several open houses on its draft plan. All will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dates and locations are:

■ Jan. 29; Collbran Auditorium, 102 Main St., Collbran;

■ Jan. 30; De Beque Community Center, 381 Minter Ave., De Beque;

■ Jan. 31; Clarion Inn, 755 Horizon Drive, Grand Junction;

■ Feb. 5; Gateway Community Center, 42700 Highway 141, Gateway;

■ Feb. 7; Fruita Civic Center, 325 Aspen Ave, Fruita.

A public comment period is expected to close April 25. For information on the draft plan and how to comment, visit http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo/rmp.html.

“We’ve worked hard with our partners to craft a wide range of alternatives for public review and comment,” Katie Stevens, acting field manager in Grand Junction, said in a news release.

“We only revise these plans about every two decades, so this is a really important opportunity to make your voice heard about how public lands are managed in the Grand Junction Field Office.”


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