Stewardship looks for contractor with local focus

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Cookie-cutter style contractors need not apply to write the Little Snake Resource Management Plan, as far as members of the Northwest Colorado Stewardship are concerned.

The group met Tuesday night to discuss the qualities they would like to see in a contractor who will write the plan. An ability to work with the community and develop a unique plan that fits Northwest Colorado, topped the stewardship's list of qualifications. The Bureau of Land Management has sent proposals for the work to seven contractors and is beginning a selection process.

"If a proposal comes back and it says nothing about the community and it's just all technical, then they probably missed the point," said the group's facilitator, Kristi Parker Celico, summarizing the group's discussion.

Jeremy Casterson of the BLM's Little Snake Office and Joe Stout of the BLM's Lakewood Office will interview contractors with the help of a third BLM employee who has not yet been chosen. They'll rate candidates based on past performances and technical capabilities.

All the contractors under consideration have worked on management plans for the BLM, Stout said.

Jeff Comstock, Moffat County Natural Resources Department director, voiced concern that many contractors today use a "cut and paste" method when writing resource management plans. They label one area recreation and another livestock grazing because those are the types of uses resource areas typically include.

"It's absolutely crucial that contractors understand they will be listening to people ... to write that plan," Comstock said.

Indeed, the stewardship's purpose is to develop a resource plan based on public input. Stewardship member T. Wright Dickinson said he's dealt with contractors who prefer to do their work from afar and don't talk to the public.

He advised Stout and Casterson to avoid hiring such a contractor.

To help ensure that the finished plan will include as many viewpoints as possible, the stewardship members are mounting a drive to recruit more diverse interests.

During the past week, a stewardship subcommittee decided to invite individuals affiliated with wild horses, rafting, hunting, fishing, game outfitters, chambers of commerce in Craig Meeker, and Dinosaur, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Western Watershed Project, wildlife organizations, and more non-unaffiliated citizens to their upcoming meetings.

There are 80 people on the stewardship's mailing list.

The next stewardship meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. June 28 at the Moffat County Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Office.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com

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