BLM asking groups for management update help | SteamboatToday.com
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BLM asking groups for management update help

Susan Cunningham

The Bureau of Land Management is asking local governments and other agencies to join in two separate processes to update management plans for Emerald Mountain, as well as for their 1.3 million acres of land in this area.

Those resource management plans outline decisions such as what types of uses — from hunting and motorized recreation, to livestock grazing and mineral extraction — the BLM will allow in various areas.

The BLM does not manage Emerald Mountain, but is looking into a trade of smaller parcels across Routt County for that area.

Updating the management plan for Emerald Mountain at the same time that the BLM is working to acquire the land is recommended and helpful, said John Husband, field manager for the Little Snake Field Office.

“(We) want to go through a planning process so we know what our management goals are there, so we don’t end up with it and don’t know,” he said.

The Emerald Mountain Partnership is going through its own process to outline how they want to see the area managed and will give those suggestions to the BLM, Husband said. Other groups likely will do the same.

The BLM plans to kick off public meetings in Hayden, Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek to hear what residents want for Emerald Mountain.

Before that, the agency will see whether local governments and other groups respond to the upcoming offer to be a “cooperating agency.” Last Thursday, that offer was presented for the first time to the Oak Creek Town Board, whose members said they would discuss the issues before making a decision.

It also is time for an update to the management plan guiding the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office, which manages land in Northwest Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The plan was last updated in 1989 after a multi-year process.

The revision process should begin this fall, with a goal of having a revised plan in place by early 2008.

Changes such as increased recreation in some areas have made the update timely.

“Think about the 1980s, and what was a mountain bike?” Husband said, referring to how that sport has quickly grown in popularity.

Letters have been sent to various groups, with Moffat County and the state Department of Natural Resources responding that they want to be involved.

If local governments and groups choose to be “cooperating agencies” for either plan update, they would have more of a seat at the table for the process. That means, for instance, that instead of commenting on alternative plans once they are drafted, they can help come up with the alternatives, Husband said.

There still will be plenty of opportunities for all groups to make public comment, even if they decide not to be a cooperating agency, he said.

In the past, there has not been a lot of interest in taking advantage of the offer to cooperate with the BLM on the update, he said. But now, they agency is seeing more interest than ever, especially from local governments.

“Rather than getting mail-outs about the meetings, they’re working with us, giving information and developing management alternatives,” he said.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com


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