Sending a message to Salazar

Commissioners discuss county's position on BLM draft plan

With two years of work put in the Resource Management Plan -- a document that will oversee the use of Bureau of Land Management's public lands --Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray wanted U.S. Rep. John Salazar's representative to understand the county's position on two key topics.

"The draft is a good draft, hammered out by 60 people who had their positions identified," Gray said to Salazar's Washington chief of staff, Ron Carlton, on Tuesday. "We would hate to see intervention by the congressman on parts of the draft."

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Salazar recently requested a funding limitation that would prohibit the BLM from mineral leasing the Roan Plateau in Garfield County through September 2008.

The commissioners also addressed what they believe to be word play in the RMP, notably the words "deferral" and "withdrawal," when it comes to mineral leasing on land parcels.

The BLM using the word "deferrals," the commissioners argued, is a way to sidestep reporting requirements to Congress that are mandated when "withdrawing" parcels from leasing consideration.

Commissioners said the bureau is "deferring for the life of the plan" areas including Dinosaur North and Cold Spring Mountain from oil and gas leasing, when, in fact, the action taken is a "withdrawal" of the areas from mineral leasing in the proposed plan. Withdrawing areas from leasing is an action that requires reporting to Congress justification for the withdrawal.

"The Department of the Interior and the BLM have made withdrawals of land for the (20-year) life of the plan," Gray said. "The county will appeal that decision if it appears in the final plan."

"We have had many doors closed in our face," Commis-sioner Tom Mathers told Carlton. "Things that have been done were not right for our area," he said.

The commissioners invited Congressman Salazar to visit with the board about the RMP and other topics, suggesting a possible bus tour of the areas in question.

Carlton saw no problem with the idea of a meeting with the board and a possible tour by the congressman.

"The congressman currently has no position on the plan, but he is certainly receptive to any information you have to give," he said. "We are always looking to do a better job."

The commissioners also complimented the congressman on his work in helping to bring a veterans clinic to Craig, noting the response to the proposed tele-health clinic has been positive.

"It makes economic sense," Gray said. "As the World War II veterans get older, it's tough driving the 150 miles to Grand Junction for health care."

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com

Commissioners:

  • Signed memorandum of understanding with Moffat County Library Board of Trustees
  • Signed permission for access and survey form to Trigon for the Museum of Northwest Colorado
  • Signed ground lease agreement for Hamilton Post Office site
  • Signed acknowledgement of notice of merger for Rocky Mountain Pipeline System, LLC
  • Received report on energy summit from Audrey Danner of Yampa Valley Partners
  • Signed access agreement for Harper Hill communication tower
  • Awarded Loudy-Simpson and Craig-Moffat Airport hay bids to Randy Call at $34.50 per ton.
  • Received public health update from Sue Birch of the Visiting Nurse Association

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