Colorado Forest Service & BLM Travel Planning Update

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January 24, 2008 7:00 AM

BLUERIBBON COALITION ACTION ALERT!

Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

Ric and I wanted to blast a quick update of all the plans underway in the Southwestern Colorado area. There are several important Travel Plans underway. And, although the Wilderness advocacy groups have had the Land Use Plan revision process tied up in the courts, the agencies are moving their plans along slowly.

Please watch for critical Action Alerts from BRC on all these important projects.

Thanks,
Brian Hawthorne
Ric Foster
BlueRibbon Coalition Public Lands Department
208-237-1008 ext 107

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Rico - West Dolores Area Travel Management Plan
Dolores Public Lands Office (Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management)

UPDATE: COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED

The Dolores Public Lands Office is taking public input on a new Travel Plan for the Rico - West Dolores area. This important plan will designate routes that will be open to summer motor vehicle use on some 240,000 acres of National Forest lands in the Bear Creek, Taylor Mesa, Rico, Dunton, Black Mesa, and Stoner Mesa areas.

The stated goal of the Travel Plan is to sustain natural-resource values through more effective management of motorized vehicle use, enhance opportunities for motorized recreation experiences, and preserve areas for non-motorized experiences. In addition to designating routes for summer motor-vehicle use, the plan will include rules on dispersed camping, seasonal closures, and parking for day-use activities. 

Written comments will be accepted until Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. Comments should be addressed to:
Penny Wu
Dolores Public Lands Office
29211 Hwy. 184
Dolores, CO  81323

Public comments will be used to shape a draft environmental assessment for a travel management plan which should be available by early spring for further public input. A final decision is expected by this summer.

UPDATE: COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED - NEW DEADLINE: February 13, 2008
AN ACTION ALERT WITH COMMENT SUGGESTIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON (
Click Here to sign up on our Action Alert list)

For more information about the Rico - West Dolores Travel Management Plan, please contact Penny Wu at (970) 882-6829. A copy of the Scoping Letter and Rico-West Dolores area map are available on the Forest's website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan/projects/projects.shtml

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Gateway Recreation Area Management Plan
(Grand Junction Field Office)
Comment Deadline February 29, 2008

The Bureau of Land Management Grand Junction Field Office (GJFO) has kicked off a recreation planning effort for the 198,000-acre Gateway Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA). The planning area is located in remote Mesa and Montrose Counties; the planning process is anticipated to take about 12 months to complete.

BLM plans to focus on designating travel opportunities; addressing commercial, competitive, special area, and organized group activities and events; identifying recreation needs; and defining recreation management objectives.

A Recreation Benefit Study was conducted by Arizona State University, with assistance from Mesa State College, to provide a better snapshot of what kind of experiences those visiting the Gateway area were having and to find out what they wanted to see more of in the future. Both surveys and focus group meetings were used last summer during the study to develop a report on the findings.

The public may submit written comments to the BLM Grand Junction Field Office, ATTN: Gateway Plan, 2815 H Road, Grand Junction, Colorado 81506; by fax to (970) 244-3083; or by email to GJFO_webmail@blm.gov. Planning documents will be available for review at the Grand Junction Field Office or on-line at www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo.html. For additional information, contact Outdoor Recreation Planner Ken Straley at (970) 244-3031.

Learn More on the Web: Gateway Recreation Area Management Plan (RAMP) http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo/spotlight/gateway_recreation.html

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BLM's Uncompahgre Field Office

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Uncompahgre Field Office (UFO) has kicked off a travel planning effort to amend the Uncompahgre Basin and their portion of the San Juan/San Miguel Resource Management Plans. The BLM just finished a 45-day public scoping comment period intended to provide information about the project and to gather input from the public in identifying issues and concerns to be considered during the environmental review process

"The BLM will be working closely with interested publics throughout this planning process, with ample opportunities for everyone's involvement," Field Manager Barb Sharrow said. "It's important that we get the word out now that changes are necessary to protect resources that are seeing increased use."

The UFO proposes to change the existing "Open" designation to "Limited to Existing" for motorized and mechanized use within the entire field office, excluding the North Delta OHV Open Area as well as designated open areas within the planning boundary of the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. Additionally, a transportation system of designated roads and trails is being proposed within the Dry Creek area, which is defined by the USDA Forest Service boundary on the west, private land on the east, 25 Mesa Road on the north, and Dave Wood Road on the south. Travel planning in this area addresses all modes of travel including motorized, mechanized, equestrian and hiking routes. The entire planning area encompasses approximately 578,000 acres of BLM-administered public lands located in Delta, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, Mesa, and Gunnison Counties.

The public may submit written comments to the BLM Uncompahgre Field Office, ATTN: Travel Management, 2465 S. Townsend Avenue, Montrose, Colorado 81401; by fax to (970) 240-5368; or by email to cotmpufo@blm.gov. Planning documents may be reviewed at the Uncompahgre Field Office or on-line at www.co.blm.gov/ubra. For additional information, contact Outdoor Recreation Planner Julie Stotler at (970) 240-5310.

Travel Plan links  http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/ufo/travel_management.html

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GUNNISON BASIN TRAVEL PLANS
COMBINED GUNNISON NATIONAL FOREST AND BLM GUNNISON FIELD OFFICE TRAVEL PLAN

UPDATE:
GUNNISON NF EXPECTED TO RELEASE THEIR "PROPOSED ACTION" SOON. STAND BY FOR ANALYSIS AND CALL FOR COMMENTS (
Click Here to sign up on our Action Alert list)

The Gunnison Field Office of the BLM is working together with the Gunnison National Forest and the public to develop and update our transportation plan for the Gunnison Basin. The joint effort will limit all motorized uses to designated roads, trails and areas. Any route NOT on the Final Travel Plan will be CLOSED.

Learn more on the web:

Forest Service website:
http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/gmug/policy/travel_mgmt/gun/index.shtml 

BLM website:
http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/ufo/travel_management/tmp_amendment.html

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Colorado BLM

San Juan Public Lands Center
San Juan Public Lands Center has released a  Release Combined USFS/BLM Draft Management Plan for Public Comment. An accompanying draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) offers four alternatives proposing differing scenarios for multiple-use management of the San Juan's BLM and National Forest lands. An oil and gas leasing availability analysis is also included as part of the draft EIS.

The San Juan Public Lands Center manages 1.9 million acres of National Forest and more than a half million acres of BLM land, ranging from high-desert mesas to high-alpine peaks. Since the original management plans were finalized two decades ago, new pressures have been put on these public lands.  Recreation has boomed, bringing with it environmental and social impacts. Timber-harvest practices have evolved as new science has become available. Fuels reduction is a new focus, and energy development is of high interest.

Beginning in January 2005, many southwestern Colorado citizens participated in community study groups to help the agencies identify ways to improve the existing plans.  "We hope to see those people again, along with other interested citizens, at our new set of meetings early in 2008," said Thurman Wilson, San Juan Public Lands Assistant Center Manager for Planning. "We look forward to hearing everyone's ideas about how to improve the current draft proposal. What we learn over the next three months will help shape the final plan."

The Draft Plan and EIS address the main issues raised by the public, including balancing management between maintaining working forest and rangelands and retaining core undeveloped lands, providing recreation and travel management within a sustainable ecological framework, managing special area designations and unique landscapes, and managing impacts from oil and gas leasing and development. The four alternatives outline different management scenarios varying by land allocations in response to issues and concerns.

Public comments will be taken on the draft plan and EIS for the next 90 days. During the comment period they will hold public meetings to assist the people with understanding the documents and submitting comments.  Continuing with the Community Study Group meeting format that was used in 2005-06, public meetings will be held at the following locations and dates:

January 16th, 2008 Cortez Holiday Inn/Koko's Conference Center
6:30- - 8:30 pm 2121 East Main
Cortez, Colorado

January 23, 2008 Durango Community Recreation Center
6:30- - 8:30 pm 2700 Main Avenue
Durango, Colorado

January 29, 2008 Pagosa Springs Community Center
6:30- - 8:30 pm 451 Hot Springs Blvd.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado

January 31, 2008 Silverton Town Hall
6:30- - 8:30 pm 1360 Greene Street
Silverton, Colorado

February 6, 2008 Rico Town Hall
6:30- - 8:30 pm 2 North Commercial
Rico, Colorado

Community Study Group members and all interested publics are encouraged to attend one of the meetings.  The content at each meeting will include:

  • A review of the organization of the documents to help readers navigate them
  • Information about how to give comment
  • Discussion about how the 2005-06 Study Group meetings (and overall public scoping comments) have been used to shape the DEIS alternatives and plan direction.

In addition to the above information, each meeting will be tailored to focus on the San Juan Public Lands most closely associated with each community (e.g., the Cortez meeting will be tailored to focus on the direction related to the Dolores).

Comments will be accepted until March 12, 2008, and can be offered via Web site at:  http://ocs.fortlewis.edu/forestPlan, by FAX to:  916-456-6724, or by mail to San Juan Plan Revision, P.O. Box 162909, Sacramento, CA 95816-2909

The draft Plan and draft EIS can be viewed and downloaded in Portable Document Format (PDF), at the following Web site: http://ocs.fortlewis.edu/forestPlan. The documents are also available on compact disks (CD). Requests should be sent to San Juan Plan Revision Team, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, Colorado 81301. Requests can also be made by phone to Laura Stransky at 970-385-1216 or via email at lstransky@fs.fed.us.

A limited number of printed copies will be available at the following government offices during regular business hours:

  • Columbine Public Lands Office, 367 Pearl Street, Bayfield, CO 81122 (970-884-2512)
  • Dolores Public Lands Office, 29211 Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323 (970-882-7296)
  • Pagosa Public Lands Office, 180 Pagosa Street, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147 (970-264-2268)
  • BLM Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, CO 80215
  • USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, 740 Simms Street, Golden, CO 80401

For more information, contact Thurman Wilson, Assistant Center Manager for Planning at (970) 385-1246.

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