BLM begins process to revise GJ area plan

Lynn Ensley wants to see federal land designated for recreational shooting preserved for that use when the Bureau of Land Management revises its management plan.

Ensley shared his thoughts Tuesday night during a meeting in Grand Junction in which BLM officials provided information and listened to concerns.

Ensley is executive director of Colorado Sportsmen Wildlife Fund Inc., which is based in Grand Junction. He said he wants the BLM to maintain its recreational shooting ranges, such as the one on 27 1/4 Road, north of Grand Junction.

“Historically, as populations grow, shooting ranges tend to go away,” Ensley said. “Growing neighborhoods can encroach on ranges, and some people are just bothered by the loud noises.”

The BLM revises its management plan for its 1.2 million acres in Mesa and Garfield counties every 20 years, spokesman David Boyd said. Each revision is a three-year process that starts with public input.

Tuesday night marked the first meeting of the new three-year process.

The BLM will have meetings tonight at Grand Center in Moab and Thursday in Collbran’s town auditorium.

BLM officials are on hand to discuss the agency’s plans for land management, including energy development, recreation and wildlife management. They also want feedback.

“We are just getting this revision under way, and the first step is asking what issues are important to the public,” Boyd said.

Addressing Ensley’s concern, Boyd said most BLM land is open for people to shoot where they please, but examining what areas would be designated for shooting and what areas would be restricted could be an example of something that could be revised.

“Twenty years ago, you could drive into the desert to shoot and be completely alone,” he said. “Now, there may be people hiking out there. So the question would be: How do we manage that?”

The BLM will examine a host of other issues, including which roads may need to be expanded, eliminated or added. The bureau will look at community growth and what land, for example, could be open space or sites for development.

The BLM encourages anyone with concerns to voice them, even if they miss the meetings, said Matt Anderson, lead planner for the revision. Comments can be submitted at http://www.blm.gov/co.

Comments will be accepted until Jan. 9, and a summary of the comments should be available in February, with public review of the preliminary plan and alternatives scheduled for early 2010, Anderson said.


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