In other news ...
At its regular meeting today, the Moffat County Commission:
• Approved, 3-0, sending a letter to Bureau of Land Management District Manager James Cagney about wilderness issues.
• Approved, 3-0, a modified surface use agreement with Gulfport Energy.
• Approved, 3-0, Moffat County Department of Social Services board meeting minutes from July 19.
• Approved, 3-0, senate passed legislation requiring mandatory reporters in child abuse/neglect cases with the addition to provide courtesy calls to all reporters.
• Heard a Connections 4 Kids quarterly report from coordinator Barb West.
• Approved, 3-0, the second year of Social Services’ Core Services Program.
• Approved, 3-0, hiring a grounds and facility maintenance technician.
• Approved, 3-0, hiring a welder for the road department.
• Approved, 3-0, a Geokinetics request to perform seismic survey demonstration at Loudy-Simpson Park for the public.
• Approved, 3-0, waiving the bid process for maintenance computer software for the grounds and maintenance department.
• Approved, 3-0, closing Moffat County Road 107 for bridge repair.
The Moffat County Commission has issued a response letter to the Bureau of Land Management stating it will not endorse blanket wilderness designations for public lands.
“Our letter is very much intended to portray that we’re not saying absolutely no (wilderness protection) in Moffat County, ever,” commissioner Tom Gray said. “What we’re saying (to the BLM) is come talk to us about what you are willing to do.”
James Cagney, manager of the BLM’s Northwest District, asked the commission July 25 to submit proposals for wilderness designations. The commission approved its response letter Tuesday.
In the letter, the commission said input was previously solicited from residents and interest groups in the county to evaluate the appropriateness of wilderness designations.
Between the years 2000 through 2003, Moffat County officials:
• Hosted public testimony sessions, five community meetings regarding wilderness issues, and three public tours reviewing the pros and cons of proposed wilderness areas.
• Took flights documenting each of the proposed wilderness areas.
• Worked with Colorado Northwestern Community Coll-
ege to sponsor wilderness informational meetings.
• Reviewed resident petitions regarding wilderness near Dinosaur National Monument.
• Published scoping documents including CDs, videotapes and reports summarizing wilderness issues.
“The results of the county’s extensive investigations and public fact gathering was that most of the Wilderness Study Areas in Moffat County do not meet the criteria of wilderness according to the 1964 Wilderness Act,” the letter states. “Any discussions of wilderness designation would have to be tied to discussions that include Congressional release of existing Wilderness Study Areas.”
Currently, Moffat County is home to 10 Wilderness Study Areas managed by the BLM that are being considered for further protection under the Wilderness Protection Act.
According to the law, areas approved for wilderness designation would still be open to a variety of recreational uses such as hiking, camping, fishing and hunting, but would ban the use of motorized vehicles, road construction and commercial activities.
Vermillion Basin has also been included in the conversation for wilderness designation because of its “wilderness character,” but before the commission is willing to consider protecting the area, it has asked the BLM and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to consider a 1-percent disturbance proposal.
The proposal, as outlined by the Northwest Colorado Stewardship Group, would permit commercial activity, like oil and gas exploration, on 1-percent of the basin at a time.
Salazar intends to present Congress with a “crown jewels” bill by Oct. 15 outlining two million acres of public land across the country ready for immediate wilderness protection.
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