RMP draft hits delay

BLM pushes release back to summer 2008

— The anticipated November release of the Resource Management Plan for the Bureau of Land Management's Little Snake River management area has been delayed until summer 2008.

The plan, which outlines the management of federal lands in Northwest Colorado, has been through years of analysis and modification due to recent changes in oil and gas exploration.

Environmental Protection Agency requests for additional air quality information has the bureau looking at further studies to determine what effect air quality changes will have on selected areas outside of the BLM management area.

"The current draft looks at total emissions for each of the (four) alternatives," BLM field manager John Husband said. "The EPA would like air dispersion models showing how class-one airsheds, such as the Flattops and Mount Zirkel wilderness areas, will be affected."

The BLM agreed to delay the final plan until those studies can be completed, and will contract with air quality consultants to acquire the needed data. That information will be included in a supplement to the RMP draft.

"The EPA was concerned over a lack of information in that area," Husband said. "We decided to back up and do some modeling to increase the accuracy of the information."

A 45-day public comment period - on the air-quality supplement only - will be scheduled once the new draft is completed, and comments will be considered before a final draft is released.

Later this year, the BLM will release a notice of a supplement to the air quality portion of the RMP draft, Husband said.

Once public comment is completed, input will be considered, and the bureau expects a final draft of the plan to be released in either late July or early August 2008.

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

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