Public has say regarding 
the future of BLM lands

The future of more than 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Junction is at issue and likely to be decided over the next year. Fortunately, residents of this area have several opportunities to learn more about potential changes and to offer their opinions about those changes.

The Bureau of Land Management has scheduled a series of open houses, beginning tonight in Collbran, to inform the public about the draft resource management plan for the Grand Junction Field office. The plan was last updated in 1987. It does not include McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area or Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area, which have, or will have, their own separate management plans.

The BLM has created four alternatives for proposed management of the 1.06 million acres of surface area being considered under the plan. And, as required by law, it has selected a preferred alternative — in this case, one that attempts to balance multiple use and conservation values.

However, as BLM officials are quick to point out, that preferred alternative is by no means set in stone. The final plan ultimately selected over the next year could be one of the other three alternatives outlined in the draft or, more likely, it will be an amalgamation of several different alternatives. It may also include data or management prescriptions that aren’t presently in any of the alternatives.

That’s why the participation of locals is so important. We have an opportunity to offer our opinions on various parts of the plan, and our ideas about how the plan should be changed.

Is the BLM’s preferred alternative proposing to close too many miles of motorized vehicle routes? Be prepared to tell the agency not only why you think that may be the case, but which routes should stay open, and why.

Does the preferred alternative make enough lands available for oil and gas drilling while still protecting other natural resources? If not, what specific changes should be made?

What about areas considered for possible wilderness designation or other special protection?

The Grand Junction Field Office is unique in Colorado. No other BLM office in the state has so many acres surrounding such a large, highly populated area. These public lands provide important natural resources, including water, wildlife and energy. They also offer limitless opportunities for outdoor recreation. These are our public lands, and we have a chance now to say how they should be managed for the next several decades.

Take the time to learn more by attending one of the following open houses, which run from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.:

✔ Tonight, Collbran Auditorium, 102 Main St.

✔ Wednesday, De Beque Community Center, 381 Minter Ave.

✔ Thursday, Clarion Inn, 755 Horizon Drive, Grand Junction.

✔ Feb. 5, Gateway Community Center, 42700 Colorado Highway 141, Gateway.

✔ Feb. 7, Fruita Civic Center, 325 Aspen Ave.


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