BLM to unveil long-awaited Uncompahgre plan

by Matt King, WCC Organizer

This fall, the Bureau of Land Management’s Uncompahgre Field Office is expected to release the first draft of its new Resource Management Plan.

The RMP will guide the agency over the next 20-plus years in managing 900,000 acres that spread from the Grand Mesa to Telluride and from the Black Canyon to the Utah border.

We’ve been waiting for this draft since 2013, and we anticipate it will include big decisions around oil and gas, as well as uranium and other leasable minerals.

When the plan comes out, we’ll work with our members to advocate for the protection of unique parts of this landscape. We estimate that 25,000 acres of canyon country merit designation as Lands with Wilderness Characteristics, and 200 miles of the Dolores River and other streams should have Suitable for Wild and Scenic status.

Since Congress isn’t likely to permanently protect these areas anytime soon, shaping the Uncompahgre RMP will ensure that they have provisional protected status in the meantime.

This RMP is also an opportunity to advance the Citizens’ Alternative for oil and gas drilling plans in the North Fork of the Gunnison River.

This summer we also anticipate the release of the final RMP for the Dominguez Escalante National Conservation Area. This is the first long-term plan for the area, and marks a significant endpoint in the campaign to protect and preserve the Dominguez Escalante area.

During the draft phase for the plan two years ago, the BLM seemed to be very receptive to our members’ recommendations on quiet use, travel management and balanced resource management, so we’re optimistic that the final plan will be to our liking.

Once the final RMP is released, it will be available for public review and a protest period if the BLM has failed to address our comments.

Stay tuned for how you can be involved in influencing the future of this precious public land.

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