BLM mulls new approach in resource plan draft

The US BLM is considering an approach with moderate levels of protection and constraints on resource uses in a draft of its latest southwestern Wyoming RMP and EIS.

Nick Snow
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC, July 17 -- The US Bureau of Land Management is considering an approach with moderate levels of protection and constraints on resource uses in a draft of its latest southwestern Wyoming resource management plan (RMP) and environmental impact statement.

The RMP and EIS drafts, which BLM's Kemmerer, Wyo., field office released on July 13, outlines four alternatives. They range from continuing the current practice of dealing with oil, gas, and other mineral, forest product, recreation, and grazing uses on a case-by-case basis to increasing restrictions significantly on one hand and reducing them on the other.

The fourth alternative, which would impose moderate constraints, is the US Department of the Interior's preferred approach, notes BLM in its executive summary of the plan. It called the alternative "a balanced approach to land management that BLM believes best addresses the issues, management concerns, and purpose and need for revising the existing RMP."

BLM issued a notice of intent on June 16, 2003, to develop a new plan for the area to replace one that has been in place since 1986. The process, which also included development of the first proposed EIS for the area, began with a 5-month period in which public comments were solicited. The Kemmerer field office also established a web site, www.blm.gov/rmp/kemmerer, to report progress in preparing proposals for the plan and EIS and to receive additional comments.

Michele Easley, who led the project, said the plan and EIS draft contain potential land use allocations for 1.4 million acres of surface and 1.6 million acres of federal mineral estate. Proposed uses include a possible new coal lease area, streams that might be added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, potential critical environmental concern areas, and areas that might be suitable for oil and gas leasing, wind energy development, and livestock grazing, she said.

The agency will take comments on the plan and EIS draft for 90 days. It also has scheduled open house meetings in the Wyoming communities of Cokeville on Aug. 6 and Lyman on Aug. 10, and public meetings in Kemmerer on Aug. 7, Rock Springs on Aug. 8, and Evanston on Aug. 9.

Contact Nick Snow at nsnow@cox.net.

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