Grand Junction chamber weighs in against BLM plan

The Bureau of Land Management failed to fully consider the effects on residents and businesses of changing the way it manages more than 1 million acres of land in western Colorado, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce said.

“We have some real problems” with the BLM’s preferred alternative for the management plan, chamber President Diane Schwenke said on Monday. “The biggest is the socioeconomic information.”

The chamber submitted a three-page letter about the plan on Monday, the deadline for comments on the draft resource-management plan for the Grand Junction Field Office.

The socioeconomic study should be redone, the chamber said in its comment.

The BLM lands in Mesa County “truly are an economic engine in this area and have potential impact on a population of approximately 250,000 people. Many individuals, industries and stakeholders will be impacted for over twenty years by the management decisions that come from the proposed RMP,” the chamber letter said.

“There is an extreme lack of data, lack of understanding of the full economic picture, and the social impact is barely considered,” the chamber wrote.

The chamber’s regulatory-oversight committee studied the draft plan for three months, Schwenke said.

Closing trails and roads could harm the Grand Valley’s attractiveness as a tourism destination, Schwenke said.

Users of motorized vehicles such as dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and dune buggies generate greater than 10 times the economic activity in the Grand Valley of non-motorized users, Schwenke said.

Citizens for Clean Air last week turned in comments urging the agency to keep in mind air quality when evaluating management plans for the lands administered by the BLM.

More than 1,870 users of motor vehicles signed a petition urging the agency to keep roads open and Brandon Siegfried, a leading proponent of keeping roads open, said he sent in at least 40 comments.

The BLM is to consider the public comments as it completes the management plan in 2014.


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