BLM approves resource management plan for area
Bureau of Land Management Utah State Director Selma Sierra announces the release of the Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan for the Monticello Field Office. The Record of Decision was recently signed by Department of the Interior, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, C. Stephen Allred.
The signature of this document constitutes the final decision by the BLM and makes the Approved Resource Management Plan effective immediately.
“This forward-looking plan provides updated guidance for managing multiple uses as directed by Congress. As we begin to implement the plan’s decisions, there will be ample opportunities for our partners and interested people to assist us with our on-the-ground efforts,” said Tom Heinlein, Monticello Field Office BLM manager.
This new plan represents important shifts in how BLM manages the public lands. Throughout a nearly five-year planning effort, the Monticello BLM involved the public in identification of issues to be resolved, compiled extensive background data, reviewed the current management situation, carefully drafted alternatives, shared the alternatives with the public and considered their comments in producing the final plan.
Key decisions in the plan include:
• Travel Management – The Monticello Field Office is implementing a comprehensive travel management system that addresses access and travel needs, as well as a variety of recreational experiences.
A key shift is going from over 600,000 acres of lands being open to cross country travel to the majority of lands being limited to a set of designated routes, as well as the closure of 393,895 acres to motorized/mechanized travel.
In the coming months, the BLM will produce an official travel management map detailing designated routes and other travel-related information.
• Cultural Resource Management – The Monticello Field Office contains some of the most extensive and remarkable cultural resources found anywhere in the world. The areas are protected through a combination of management designations including Wilderness Study Areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and Special Recreation Management Areas.
A comprehensive, updated set of enforceable regulations provides further protections.
• Recreation – Recreation on public lands managed by the Monticello Field Office is world renowned and growing in popularity. To minimize conflicts between different types of recreation enthusiasts, BLM identified recreation opportunities and prioritized where different types of recreation should be allowed. Seven Special Recreation Management Areas (560,000 acres) were established to focus activities, limit conflicts, and protect resources.
• Special Designations - Seven Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (73,492 acres) are designated in the plan where special management attention is required to protect important values.
In addition, 35.7 miles of the Colorado and San Juan Rivers, as well as a portion of Dark Canyon have been found suitable for recommendation to Congress for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
• Minerals – The Monticello Field Office has determined which lands should be open to leasing for oil and gas and other leasable minerals and under what conditions.
The plan manages 493,400 acres as unavailable for leasing, 66,108 acres as subject to a no surface occupancy stipulation, 740,594 acres as open to leasing with special conditions, and 484,217 acres as open to leasing with standard conditions. The new plan opens no new acreage to oil and gas leasing.
Other resource decisions in the plan include the designation of utility corridors, right-of-way avoidance and exclusion areas, lands identified for disposal, lands available for livestock grazing, identifying areas to be managed for their wilderness characteristics, soil and watershed protection actions, habitat management for special status species, visual resource management designations, and wildlife habitat management.
Protest letters were reviewed by the BLM Director in Washington, D.C. After careful consideration points raised in these protests, the National BLM Director’s analysis shows that BLM Utah followed all laws, policies, and pertinent resource considerations in developing the plan.
Minor clarifications resulting from this review are incorporated into the Approved Resource Management Plan and discussed in the Record of Decision.
Finally, the State of Utah Governor’s office exercised its right to review the plan and sent a letter concluding that the plan was consistent with State or local plans. BLM is pleased with this outcome, because working with the State of Utah was of particular importance to Selma Sierra, the BLM Utah State Director.
Electronic copies of the Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan will be available beginning November 19 on the Monticello Field Office web site at: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/monticello/planning.html