Feelings mixed for proposed Blue Valley Land Exchange | SkyHiNews.com

Feelings mixed for proposed Blue Valley Land Exchange

Last week the Bureau of Land Management hosted a pair of public meetings, in Kremmling and Silverthorne, to provide information and field questions from the public about a proposed land exchange along the Blue River.

According to Steven Hall, spokesman for BLM Colorado, the meetings featured a “healthy mix of people” of both proponents and opponents of the proposed land transfer.

“We heard from both perspectives,” Hall said.

Hall noted that many of the individuals who were skeptical about the proposal hailed from the Colorado Wild Public Lands, a Basalt based volunteer organization. The group members “closely watch each step of the Federal Land Exchange NEPA process to ensure that the Public Agency is adhering to the laws and regulations governing its evaluation process and that the Public Interest is represented,” according to their website.

Hall said there are no more public meetings currently scheduled to discuss the land exchange. After the public comment period on the draft Environmental Impact Statement is completed, on June 25, the BLM will review public input and determine whether or not the agency believes the exchange is in the public interest.

If the BLM decides the proposal is not in the public interest the proposal would end at that time. If the BLM determines the proposal is in the public interest they could move forward with the proposal as presented or develop a new preferred alternative, based upon the range of alternatives in the current Environmental Impact Statement, Hall explained.

After determining how to move forward the next step in the process would be a final Environmental Impact Statement, which would result in the closure of analysis on the topic and result in a proposed decision. If a final Impact Statement is developed Hall said there is typically another opportunity for the public to provide input on the topic.

Hall declined to give any specific timeline regarding BLM’s process moving forward on the Blue Valley Land Exchange but said in general the agency’s intention is to have a final Environmental Impact Statement ready within one year of publication of the initial draft Impact Statement.

“The longer we wait the more likelihood there is that the environmental analysis considered is no longer applicable,” Hall said. “We want to make a decision before we have to go back and renew or refresh.”

Citizens still have a little over a week left to make comments to the BLM about the exchange proposal. All comments must be received by June 25. Comment submissions can be emailed to kfo_webmail@blm.gov, faxed to 970-724-3066, or mailed to PO Box 68 Kremmling, CO 80459.

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