Stewardship group targets June deadline

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The Northwest Colorado Stewardship has embarked on an ambitious schedule to develop management alternatives for the Little Snake Resource Area by June.

The stewardship is a grass-roots organization working closing with the Bureau of Land Management on the revision of the resource management plan for the Little Snake Resource Area. The plan will guide the management of the 1.3 million-acre resource area for the next 20 years.

"From now until June, (the stewardship) wants to help the BLM come up with alternatives that will go in the (resource management) plan," said the stewardship's facilitator, Kristi Parker Celico of Keystone.

About 50 stewardship members attend meetings on a regular basis. They have divided into subcommittees that focus on minerals and energy, habitat management, and travel and recreation. Other meetings will be held to discuss the overall ecosystem of the resource area, areas of special designation, including lands with wilderness characteristics, and cultural resources.

For each area, the stewardship will provide the BLM community goals and objectives, areas of desire and concern, input on the range of management alternatives, and the group will identify specific alternatives.

If time allows, the stewardship will develop approaches for monitoring management practices and advice on implementing the management plan.

Each topic will be launched in a full stewardship meeting, and subcommittee meetings will be held as needed. Full stewardship meetings will be held the third Wednesday of every month. Subcommittee meetings will be held the first and second week of every month.

In January, the stewardship met to discuss the ecosystem of the resource area. On Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., the group will meet to discuss minerals and energy and areas of special designation. The meeting is scheduled to last six hours and will be held at the Moffat County Fairgounds Pavilion.

Guest speakers will include Moffat County resident Jane Yazzie, energy developer Fred Julander, and Suzanne Jones of the Colorado Wilderness Society.

The stewardship's planning process mirrors the BLM's plan to develop a management plan for the resource area. The BLM will develop several management alternatives for the resource area and ultimately select one, which will become the resource management plan.

The task the stewardship has set for itself is a complex one. The resource area has a diverse population that includes a ski resort and ranches. Land is owned by private citizens, the state, and federal agencies. Most every government-sanctioned land use, from oil and gas development to hunting outfitters, cattle grazing and off-highway vehicle recreation, occurs here.

The stewardship's Web site was launched online last week. The site contains detailed information about the group, and it can be accessed at www.nwcos.org.

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

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