By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
The proposed Northwest Colorado Working Landscape Trust draft has completed its cycle through the public process, and is approaching the final approval steps for the local level.
Public comment on the Land Trust draft closed Thursday at 5 p.m., and on Monday the input collected will be reviewed by the Moffat County Land Use Board and revised into the text of the proposal. On Wednesday, the proposal will be presented for approval to the Moffat County Commissioners.
The proposed Northwest Colorado Working Landscape Trust is a concept designed to bring any and all users of public lands together to create realistic and comprehensive management plans. The plan calls for a board of seven Trustees representing agriculture, recreation, retail business, minerals and industry, the environment, local government and land owners.
The Trustees would work to ensure users, the beneficiaries of public lands, enjoy equal and balanced access to public lands. Disputes over management would be addressed by the Trustees, or the Advisory Council, a congressionally appointed Trustee-oversight body that would have seven members, representing the same seven interests as the Trustees.
The county's Natural Resources and Planning departments received 118 hits on the website, 32 letters and three phone calls. The letters were more significant than the numbers initially suggest because they were "from associations that represent thousands of people," Jeff Comstock, Natural Resources Department director, said.
"We received letters from organizations, companies, associations Tri-State, Colowyo, Sierra Club, Moffat County Wool Growers Association, Colorado Wilderness Network, Moffat County Cattleman's Association," he said. "The letters were from the entities as a whole, not just a member of a group."
The proposal has received good support from almost all concerns, except for some environmental groups, Comstock said.
At the Land Use Board meeting Monday evening, the board will begin weighing the merits of each comment, and decide what's appropriate to place into the text of the Land Trust draft.
"Almost every letter has a substantive comment that we can incorporate into the plan," Comstock said.
The departments are still awaiting the research concerning the designation/selection of beneficiaries of the trust. The County Commissioners will be adopting the Land Trust proposal as a concept, which will allow continued work on the draft while developing the structure of the appeals process.
Work concerning trustee appointment and the beneficiary question will also be going on while the proposal is prepared for Congress.
"The Commissioners will be adopting the concept of the Trust, and saying [by their adoption] 'We've got the general advice, now go and polish the proposal for Congress, while working in the suggestions from the public process," Comstock said.
The approval by the Board of County Commissioners will initiate the process of creating a bill for Congress to turn the Northwest Colorado Working Landscape Trust proposal into reality.
The adoption is also another step in revising the county's Master Plan, and the Commissioners have had preliminary discussions with Sen. Allard, Sen. Campbell, Rep. Scott McInnis and their staffs about what lies ahead for this plan, said Marianna Raftopoulos, Moffat County Commissioner.
"When we accept the Land Use Boards recommendation, the Trust will become part of the county's Land Use Plan," she said. "After the approval, the work that is going on now to complete the plan will continue, building the proposal as we go along, and the work towards making this proposal into a bill will also start."
The Land Use Plan, and the Land Trust proposal, which is a part of that, is an important section of the county's Master Plan.
The work on revising all of the Master Plan should be completed in a year, she said.
"The departments have gone out and collected a lot of input for this and all of these steps," Raftopoulos said. "We've done a great deal through the public process towards putting these plans together."
The Land Use Board will meet Monday at 7 p.m. at the Annex building at 200 W. Victory Way.
The Board of County Commissioner will meet Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at the Courthouse. At Wednesday's meeting, the Commissioners will also
Review the October supplemental budget.
Discuss the Indoor Arena Safety Report draft, and the required steps concerning filing the report with the state and beginning the licensor process.
Host a discussion with Craig City Councilor Kent Neilson and City Manager Jim Ferree concerning signage to Woodbury and Loudy Simpson Park.
Participate in a predator workshop concerning the Blue Mountain Livestock Association's predator control proposal for the extreme southwest corner of the county.
Host an intergovernmental workshop to discuss the Northwest Colorado Working Landscape Trust with federal and state land management agencies.