Land Management Plans Put Wilderness Quality Lands at Risk

Sep 20, 2011

The Bureau of Land Management fails to protect thousands of acres of wilderness quality lands in Colorado in draft land use plans released for public review and comment. The Colorado River Valley (formerly Glenwood Springs) and Kremmling Resource Management Plans cover 883,000 acres of public lands that include some of Colorado’s most pristine wild lands and sagebrush habitat. The BLM found more than 60,000 acres in the planning area harbor wilderness characteristics, but declined to protect a single acre in the preferred alternatives.

“We are beyond disappointed that the agency’s preferred plans do nothing to protect the outstanding wild lands in these areas, which comprise just seven percent of the public lands at stake,” said Steve Smith, Associate Regional Director for The Wilderness Society. “These plans do not reflect the high value Coloradans place on wilderness, nor do they reflect the Obama administration’s commitment to preserving lands with wilderness character.”

“Fortunately this is just a draft and there is still opportunity for Coloradans to engage in the process and see to it that wilderness quality areas get protection they deserve,” said Peter Hart, Conservation Analyst at Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop.  “We will work hard with local communities to ensure BLM adopts management actions in the final plan that protect the few wild lands remaining in the Colorado River Valley Field Office.”

As drafted in the agency’s preferred alternatives, the Colorado River Valley and Kremmling RMPs would allow motorized use in 95% of the planning area and close less than 6% to oil and gas leasing. Both plans neglect to designate substantial areas for non-motorized recreational uses such as hiking, backcountry hunting and fishing and wildlife viewing.

“These plans fall far short of providing balance among the multiple uses of our public lands,” said Scott Braden, Director of Conservation of the Colorado Mountain Club. “Our members, and many other Coloradans travel to these public lands for quiet backcountry experiences, and the BLM needs fix these plans to protect lands with wilderness character and promote those opportunities.”

The draft plans are open for public comment until December 15, 2011. The BLM is hosting a series of public meetings on the Colorado River Valley RMP in October, and the schedule can be accessed at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/land_use_planning/rmp/kfo-gsfo/....

Adapted from a joint release with the Wilderness Workshop and the Colorado Mountain Club

Juli Slivka
303-650-5818 x129