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Environmentalists slam new BLM plan

Groups call management priorities flawed, inadequate

Environmental organizations were quick to pounce on a new resource management plan released Friday by the Bureau of Land Management, calling it flawed, woefully inadequate and a missed opportunity to properly manage development and recreation on public land.

The BLM document, which replaces a resource-management plan that dates to 1983, covers 503,000 surface acres and 300,000 acres of mineral estate beneath nonfederal land in La Plata, Archuleta, Montezuma, San Juan, Dolores, San Miguel, Hinsdale and Montrose counties.

The BLM’s chosen plan, one of four options, struck a middle ground in handling environmental, recreational and commercial issues.

But the reaction of environmentalists was tantamount to “Are you kidding?”

“This flawed management plan indicates that the (BLM) Tres Rios field office has ignored key BLM conservation policies and the public’s desires,” Shelley Silbert, executive director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, said in a statement.

“The BLM should ensure that our nation’s resources are managed with respect for public input and in a way that fulfills public trust,” Silbert said. “Coloradans have repeatedly shown that we value conservation, wilderness, clean air and clean water.”

The plan shows significant imbalance in managing resources, Silbert said.

Jimbo Buickerood, public lands coordinator for the San Juan Citizens Alliance, said the BLM has an obligation to safeguard water, air and scenic views.

“However, the final resource management plan significantly fails to incorporate the thousands of public comments asking for specific protection for the values we hold to be near and dear and instead delivers a woefully inadequate document that requires neither the most current technology or best practices to protect these vital resources that are already challenged due to established industrial development.”

Juli Slivka, a planning specialist for The Wilderness Society, said the BLM missed the opportunity to properly manage public-land issues.

“There are many tools at the BLM’s disposal that could have helped demonstrate a commitment to balancing conservation and energy development while properly managing wilderness-quality lands,” Slivka said. “Those tools weren’t used.”

Megan Mueller, a biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild, said the BLM shortchanged the Gunnison sage-grouse, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently listed as threatened.

“The BLM put the interests of oil and gas companies ahead of wildlife,” Mueller said.

Fewer than 5,000 sage-grouse remain in seven isolated populations in southwestern Colorado, Mueller said.

The National Parks Conservation Association said it is interested in strengthening air quality around Mesa Verde National Park.

“We are unfortunately disappointed in the final plan,” Kati Schmidt, associate director of media relations for the organization, said in a release.

daler@durangoherald.com

On the net

BLM’s decision: http://on.doi.gov/1BK68Cf

Jun 28, 2022
Feds to focus on oil, gas concerns
Jun 28, 2022
A new BLM resource-management plan
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