BLM begins analyzing public comments about management plan
The public comment period for the Kremmling Draft Resource Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement ended Jan. 17.
A Resource Management Plan provides guidance about an area’s resources, for example sage brush habitat, and how they will be managed. The last update to the Kremmling plan was in 1984.
The Kremmling planning area encompasses 377,900 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and underlying federal mineral estate in all or parts of six Colorado counties: Jackson, Grand, Summit, Larimer, Eagle and Routt.
This land use plan will provide the management direction for the next two decades.
Staff at the Kremmling field office will consider comments after the deadline, according BLM public information officer David Boyd; however, the earlier they are submitted, the better. Officials are moving to the next step in the process – organizing and analyzing all comments, he said.
Regarding the process of each comment submission, “We identify each comment and categorize them,” said Boyd. “For example, if there is a wildlife comment with a recreation comment, each specialist will come together to analyze, then the core team gets together and hashes it out to come out with a proposed alternative.”
Each specific, substantive comment is addressed. An example of a comment they will not address is “Don’t close any roads,” Boyd said
The BLM may hire contractors to help organize the process, Boyd said.
“The staff does this in addition to their regular job duties; however, the plan is a priority. It is a challenge – while they are analyzing comments, they still have to manage the land. It does take a long time, months to go through the comments.”
Many of the comments are from counties and organizations throughout Colorado. Some of the cooperating agencies such as the state of Colorado, county and city governments, work more closely with the BLM specialists.
“When we organize comments, we will have meetings to discuss public comments with the cooperating agencies,” Boyd said. “The agencies will give their views on the proposed alternative before it’s finalized.”
A current example of the time line of a resource management plan is the Little Snake Resource Management Plan from Moffat, Routt, and Rio Blanco counties. The initial planning started in 2003, Boyd said. The final decision came out in October 2011.
There were issues addressed similar to the Kremmling plan including innovative approaches to maintaining large undisturbed sage brush habitat; sage grouse habitat is important in Northwest Colorado. Additionally, the Little Snake Resource Plan final decision restricted oil and gas development to protect sage brush habitat, Boyd said.
“Another result of the plan that gained national attention was 77,000 acres in the Vermillion Basin Area located near Craig, which was closed to oil and gas development to protect wilderness characteristics.”
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