The Sopris Sun

Wilderness Workshop analyzing proposed BLM plan

Comment deadline April 21

Sopris Sun Staff Report

The Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop is busy analyzing a
proposed BLM management plan released on March 21 that includes Red Hill, the
Crown and parts of Thompson Divide.

“This (plan) is a biggie,” said Wilderness Workshop spokesman
Dave Reed. “It’s the blueprint for how over 500,000 acres of BLM lands in
Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties will be managed for the next 20-plus years.”

The Bureau of Land Management’s proposed plan also covers
federal land in Grand, Jackson, Routt, Summit and Larimer counties.

“Our proposed Resource Management Plan for the Kremmling Field
Office is based largely on the comments we received from the public and our
State and local cooperating agencies when we put our Draft Plan out for comment
in 2011,” said BLM spokeswoman Stephanie Odell in a press release. “We believe
the proposed plan provides a balanced approach to managing the public’s land
and resources … for the next two decades.”

The public comment deadline is April 21. A final decision is
expected late this year.

Reed and others at Wilderness Workshop have been plowing
through the proposed plan since receiving it last week but an initial observation
includes: Almost 29,000 acres will be closed to oil and gas leasing, and
another 95,000 acres will only be allowed to be leased with stipulations that
the surface can’t be disturbed, but the BLM is projecting another 5,300 oil and
gas wells will be drilled on its lands in the next 20 years, mostly west of the
Thompson Divide (located west of Carbondale).

According to a BLM website, of the approximately 12,000
comments received during the previous review process, the top concern was
recreation and visitor services (13 percent), followed by “alternatives” and
oil/gas leases (11 percent). Climate change concerns ranked near the bottom
with 0.1 percent.