Seeking more friends

Group asks for alternative support for plan

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The Friends of Northwest Colorado, a volunteer group comprised of Moffat County residents, has secured at least 100 endorsements from area residents supporting its alternative proposal to the Bureau of Land Management's resource management plan.

On Wednesday, the group released its response to the BLM draft plan, titled "A Conservation Vision for the Little Snake Resource Area." The publication calls on the BLM to incorporate more protective provisions to the management plan.

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"We're just a group of simple people trying to remind the BLM that we're here, we're thinking and we'd like our public lands used wisely," Friends member Jane Yazzie said.

A campaign to secure endorsements is on-going, Yazzie said. The Friends of Northwest Colorado will submit the endorsements to the BLM at the end of the management plan public comment period May 16.

The BLM released the management plan in February. If implemented, the resource plan would be the governing document for 1.3 million acres in the Little Snake Resource Area.

The Friends group said the BLM plan opens 93 percent of the Little Snake area to oil and gas drilling, including the 81,000-acre Vermillion Basin.

Just 160,870 acres of the Little Snake area would be placed off limits to energy development and instead be earmarked for recreation or wildlife, the group said.

"What better investment could we make for our children and grandchildren than to leave (public land) untouched for the next 50 years?" said Wes McStay, a Friends member and Moffat County rancher. His comments came Wednesday morning during a teleconference between conservationists and the media. Public land "is a national treasure, maybe a global treasure. It's a jewel."

The Conservation Vision makes recommendations on how the BLM should manage oil and gas resources, wildlife habitat, cultural resources, vegetation, grazing, recreation, air and water quality and open space.

In essence, the Friends plan suggests steps to safeguard the "fragile resources of this area," McStay said.

Added Allan Reishus, another Friends member, "Rampant oil and gas development is a major concern for us. It has the potential to destroy all that which we hold dear if it is not managed properly. We think that our vision affords ample opportunities for development while better protecting the resources that make this area so unique."

To view the Friends of Northwest Colorado Conservation vision, log on to the Web site, www.southernrockies.org/1sfo/FriendsVision.pdf. To view the Bureau of Land Management Little Snake Resource Area Management Plan, log on to the Web site, www.co.blm.gov/lsra/rmp/.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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