Guest Columnist: EDP letter advocates for 1-percent Vermillion use

Editor’s note: The following is a letter the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership sent to Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, in Washington, D.C. The letter concerns the proposed Resource Management Plan and final environmental impact statement for public lands administered by the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office in Craig.

Dear Mr. Bob Abbey:

We appreciate the important work the Bureau of Land Management does in Moffat County and we understand that it is a challenge to achieve all of the goals and objectives you have for our public lands.

A brief summary from your website makes it clear that you work hard to strike a balance for the public you serve and the lands you manage.

“The public lands provide significant economic benefits to the Nation and to states and counties where these lands are located. … The job of balancing this mix of resources and uses grows more complex each year. … Working with its partners at the local, state, and national levels, the BLM will meet its mission of sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

Clearly you have an intention to work with your partners at all levels. Your “in the field” adherence to this policy through the decade-long collaborative effort to develop the Little Snake Field Office RMP and address the multifaceted needs of the Vermillion Basin area was something that the citizens and community leaders in Craig and Moffat County appreciated, invested in heavily, and valued.

However, the recent scrapping of the recommendations from that effort is of grave concern to our local community as it has potentially very serious and negative consequences for our region.

Some statistics that may help you quantify the negative impact include:

• Loss of $25.6 million to local taxing districts (school district, community college, rural fire protection, county and city governments).

• Loss of $7.7 million in bonus payments to state, federal and local governments.

• Loss of $87 million in federal royalty payments.

• Loss of $43.75 million to the State of Colorado (royalty share)

• Loss of $77 million in ad valorem and severance tax payments

We believe the 1-percent surface use agreement that was forged through a long-term, collaborative process deserves to be recognized and honored.

One of the charges the BLM has is to sustain the productivity of public lands for the use of present and future generations.

We have employees and businesses in our community that are suffering greatly due to the national economic recession and the regional, regulation-induced, oil and gas industry recession.

We respectfully request that you return to the 1-percent use ideal and continue to honor your commitment to our community and the individuals in it who have put their faith in your process and leadership.

Respectfully,

Scott Cook, Chairman

Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Board of Directors

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