Environmentalists Scrutinize BLM's Final Draft Resource Management Plan for Uncompahgre Field Office
On June 28, the Bureau of Land Management released their final draft Resource Management Plan for the Uncompahgre Field Office. The document represents years of work and would guide land-use planning decisions on public lands in southwest Colorado for decades to come. KDNK's Raleigh Burleigh has more on why environmental groups and local governments are raising concerns. This report includes comments from Jayson Barangan, the lead public affairs specialist for the BLM Colorado State Office, and Pete Kolbenschalg, founder of Colorado Farm & Food Alliance.
The BLM's Resource Management Plan for the Uncompahgre Field Office oversees more than 675,000 acres of surface lands and nearly 1 million acres of federal mineral estate in Montrose, Ouray, Delta, San Miguel and Mesa Counties.
The BLM estimates that the directives in this draft would contribute approximately 2.5 billion dollars in economic output while supporting 950 jobs over the next 20 years.
Despite these projected advantages, Colorado environmental groups and some local governments criticize that this draft prioritizes the Trump Administration's energy dominance policy by favoring oil and gas, coal and uranium development on public lands.
Environmental groups and some local governments, like Gunnison County Commissioners as cited in a recent article by Crested Butte News, object that this latest and final draft is substantially different than what was previous provided for comment and that it includes policy alternatives introduced without public input.
The document is 3,700 pages and allows only 30 days of review and protest for parties that commented during the plan's last phase. Although the formal protest period closes on Monday, July 29, The Federal Lands Policy and Management Act provides Colorado Governor Jared Polis a total of 60 days to review the draft resource management plan and comment on its consistency with state priorities and policies.
Western Slope Conservation Center has organized a petition in support of The North Fork Alternative Plan, a community-driven plan that prioritizes healthy lands and water, air quality, wildlife habitat, and scenic and recreational attributes of public lands managed by the Uncompahgre Field Office.