BLM management plan is long and complicated
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Community members who attended the Bureau of Land Management’s open house in Eagle Tuesday know the agency’s resource management plan will affect them, but they’re just not sure how it will affect them.
The BLM hosted the meeting to give the community information on the plan, called the Colorado River Valley Draft Resource Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement. And while there were maps scattered throughout the room at the Eagle Public Library and several BLM staff members there to explain it all, many people had a tough time comprehending what the maps actually show.
The plan covers 12 so-called planning issues that the BLM wants to address in the revised plan, ranging from travel and trails management to energy development to wildlife habitat management. The last regional plan was completed in 1984.
There’s a public comment period open through Dec. 15 and those comment would help shape the final version of the plan, said BLM spokesman David Boyd.
But until people understand the plan, which includes hundreds of page of documents and maps, many are unsure how to comment.
Eric Moberg, a motorized trail user and mountain biker, said there’s a lot of information to go through. Moberg, a member of Rocky Mountain Sport Riders, said that alternative A looks like it’s going to be preferred for most motorized and mechanized users, but it’s still too early to know.
“I’m going to educate myself a little more,” he said.
Alternative A would mean no change from the current management of the BLM lands in the region, which includes lands in Eagle, Pitkin, Mesa Garfield and Routt counties. The total planning area consists of about 2.8 million acres of land.
Eagle County has showed a general support for Alternative C, which follows a theme of conservation and would offer the most protection to the environment. Susie Kincaid, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign, said wilderness proponents would generally support C, but that none of the alternatives are perfect. She, too, is still trying to understand the implications from the draft plan and the various proposed alternatives.
“All of the alternatives would remove any protection and management of about 47,000 acres of lands with wilderness characteristics,” Kincaid said. “Certainly there are elements of C that are much more protective of the wildlife and the habitat and the wilderness quality lands, but none of the alternatives protect the wilderness quality lands.”
Alternative B is the BLM’s preferred alternative for the management plan. This alternative would have the greatest restrictions on oil and gas leasing and development, according to the BLM. Under alternative B, there would also be no acres designated as open to cross country off-highway vehicle (OHV) use; 467,600 acres designated as limited to existing routes and 37,300 designated as closed to OHV use.
Alternative B, compared to the current management under alternative A, would have 6,700 fewer acres closed to OHV’s and 344,600 more acres limited to designated routes.
When looking at the maps, however, it’s hard to see exactly what that all means for recreation users.
“Right now, it’s not really clear,” said Marc Lee, a OHV and motorcycle rider who lives in Eagle.
Lee said he rides everywhere from Vail to Cottonwood Pass to Carbondale, so he’s concerned about the plan and what it means for him. As of Tuesday’s open house, he still wasn’t sure how to interpret the maps. He knows he needs to continue to pay attention, though.
“This travel plan really affects, potentially could affect, a large segment of the riding area,” Lee said.
Jeff Wright moved to Colorado for its open space and rural living. He’s taking an interest in the management plan because he wants to make sure development stops and conservation takes over.
He, too, is somewhat overwhelmed with all of the documents within the draft plan.
“I’m in the learning process because it’s complicated,” Wright said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.