County commissioners oppose elements of Sage-grouse Plan | CraigDailyPress.com

County commissioners oppose elements of Sage-grouse Plan

Editors note: This story has been updated to correct a quote misattributed to the wrong person.

CRAIG — The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners approved sending a letter of discontent to the Bureau of Land Management regarding its Sage-grouse Plan during a meeting held Tuesday.

Commissioner Don Cook told U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s representative Shannon Wadas, who was in attendance, that Gov. John Hickenlooper had reneged on his support for Moffat County and pulled substantial tracts of land from the BLM lease agreement. Cook said he had thought commissioners had a good working relationship with the state and the federal government, adding that what the governor did felt to him like a “knife stuck in the back.” He said the county needs to stand up to the governor and tell him it isn’t right to isolate an economic base in a small community.

Natural Resources Department director Jeff Comstock said the letter proposes amendments to the 2015 BLM Sage Grouse Environmental Impact Statement, focusing largely on no surface occupancy.  In the letter, commissioners wrote that Moffat County has expressed its frustration with the BLM giving no credence to local government regarding the no surface occupancy issue, which Moffat County has clearly commented against.

Other issues in the letter address flawed cooperating agency processes, the Department of Interior never having addressed scientific flaws with the plan amendments, land use and development activities, unlawful delegation and sub-delegation of habitat management and local government involvement.

“I think it is important for the public to know what we do and don’t support,” Commissioner Ray Beck said.

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Another point of concern commissioners addressed in the letter is the use of the word “sovereign” in the document. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is not “sovereign” over wildlife management, because private landowners cooperation is required, the letter states, asking the word sovereign to be removed or replaced.

Sage-grouse is going to hurt the county economically, Beck said, adding that the BLM is holding Moffat County lands hostage in terms of future oil, land and gas development, recreation and grazing. He said he hopes the letter will get the point across.

Broadband

Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Michelle Perry asked commissioners to approve a letter of support for the broadband initiative. The letter stresses the importance of having broadband to the county, and, according to Perry, it will help recruit and retain businesses and help diversify the local economy.

Both the county and the city of Craig have agreed to co-own the network and assist with management of the operation and maintenance of the infrastructure. The blueprint of the network is available for the public online, Perry said. It outlines the design of the network and the plan on how to implement it. She said she wanted to clarify that it is the most populated areas in Moffat County will be first to receive broadband service. As the county grows, officials will look at providing services to more remote areas.

The total initial cost for the broadband project is $4.1 million, Perry said, and grants are being sought to fund the project.

Commissioners voted to approve the letter of support.

In other business, commissioners:

• Appointed Mindy Curtis as budget officer for the Finance Department.

• Approved a bid from Masterworks for $21,000 for roof top replacements at the Department of Human Services building. No other bids were received, according to Office of Development Services director Roy Tipton.