RBC I The White River Field Office (WRFO), Bureau of Land Management, hosted a Meeker meeting last Tuesday at the public library to discuss BLM’s travel management plan. Six members of the public were there to meet with four BLM representatives. BLM staff admitted they missed the deadline to get notice in the Herald Times about the meeting. A similar briefing was held in Rangely Wednesday, Aug. 31.
The purpose of the meeting was to update interested parties on the BLM planning process regarding long-term travel management and to gather public comment. Participants presented concerns and discussed issues. Field manager Kent Walter asserted to the group that the BLM had already met with cooperating agencies—Rio Blanco and Moffat Counties, the Blanco District of the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Douglas Creek and White River Conservation Districts—with their comprehensive land use plan.
Walter also explained that BLM has been working with the travel management sub-group they formed through the Northwestern Colorado Regional BLM Advisory Council (NW RAC). The primary NW RAC is composed of 15 individuals across the Northwest Colorado BLM area appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Interior upon local recommendation. The 15 current members of the RAC and the interests they represent are: (from Grand Junction) John Potter, off highway vehicles; Jim Mattern and David Ludlam, energy and mining; and Carl Conner, archeology and history; Joe Neuhof, public-at-large; and Dean Riggs, state natural resources agency; (from Fruita) John Justman, elected official and Lori Buck, commercial recreation; (from Craig) Wes McStay, federal grazing permittee and Luke Schafer, environment; (from Aspen) Mike Pritchard, dispersed recreation; (from Basalt) George Newman, elected official; (from Carbondale) Connor Coleman, environmental organizations; (from Cowdrey) Barbara Vasquez, dispersed recreation; (from Walden) Lanny Weddle, public-at-large. The NW RAC advises state BLM leadership.
The special White River Travel Management NW RAC sub-group was first formed a year ago. The 13 members of the sub-group are: (from Meeker) Jerry Oldland, livestock permittee; Alvin Jones, motorized OHV-Wagon Wheel OHV Club; Roy Wedding, non-motorized hiker/biker; and Diane Mobley, equestrian use; (from Rangely) Brad Casto, motorized OHV; Don Peach, non-motorized hiker/biker; and Monty Elder, outfitter permittee; (from Craig) David Bray, OHV-Yampa Valley Trail Riders and Soren Jespersen, the Wilderness Society; (from Denver) Nick Payne, hunters and anglers—Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Aaron Kindle, sportsmen/anglers—Trout Unlimited; (from Parachute) Annette Garrigues, oil and gas. The sub-group, which is charged with making recommendations to the NW RAC, has a wildlife conservation representative vacancy.
This group last met in Meeker on Aug. 23. They meet next on Sept. 14, 9 a.m. to noon, at the White River Field Office, 220 E. Market St. They have scheduled a public comment opportunity at 11 a.m. Agenda items include reviewing the primary travel alternatives, area designations, alternatives considered but not carried forward, and developing recommendations for the full RAC. The preliminary alternatives can be viewed online at bit.ly/2aLnDKx.
The BLM has suggested the following questions for the public to consider and respond to: Is there a reasonable range of alternatives? Do the alternatives adequately address issues raised? Are any of the alternatives inconsistent with local land use plans? Do you have any concerns with the feasibility of implementing any alternatives?
The alternatives being considered will determine which areas would be open to all cross-country motorized or mechanized use, which would require use be limited to designated routes, and which routes or areas would be closed (perhaps seasonally) to motorized or mechanized vehicles. The total area under WRFO management is nearly 1.5 million acres (1.15 million acres in Rio Blanco County, 232,700 acres in Moffat County, and 74,300 acres in Garfield County).
BLM scheduled public tours of their four proposed “open areas” yesterday from Meeker. Tours will take place in the Rangely area today.
BLM requests comments on this preliminary stage of their planning be submitted to the WRFO by Sept. 30, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or hard copy delivered to their offices, c/o Heather Sauls, WRFO, 220 E. Market St., Meeker 81641. Following comments, BLM staff will be working on proposed route designations and limitations through most of the next year. Contact BLM at 970-878-3800.
Meeker landowners who attended the Aug. 30 briefing were Chad and Eleanor Carter, Brian Collins, Don Hilkey, Victor Parker and this reporter. The BLM staffers were Walter, assistant field manager Lauren Brown, project coordinator Heather Sauls and recreation specialist Aaron Grimes.