County seeks input on BLM’s plans for local rivers | CraigDailyPress.com
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County seeks input on BLM’s plans for local rivers

Collin Smith

Other action

At its meeting Monday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Voted, 3-0, to table discussion of funding the Craig/Moffat County airport an additional $4,434 to complete a planned overlay of the front parking lot.

The project's price more than doubled since it originally was conceived in 2008 - from about $79,000 to about $170,000 - because contractors now must abide Federal Aviation Administration construction requirements.

Last year, airport officials planned to use Colorado Department of Local Affairs dollars for the parking lot but had to use that money to build a new terminal after bids for the facility significantly were higher than expected.

This year, airport officials hope to use $130,000 of FAA entitlement funds for the parking lot, which means they have to follow FAA rules.

Since FAA requirements add a substantial cost, the airport project's budget is short about $9,800. Officials plan to ask the Craig City Council for the other half of that difference tonight.

Since the FAA is responsible for the parking lot's high price, the FAA should pay for the project, Commissioner Tom Gray said.

The FAA gives the airport $130,000 every year, Gray said, so the airport could wait one more year to pave the parking lot without using any local money.

Ray Beck, airport board chairman and city councilor, said the airport has other potential projects in line for FAA funding and would like to have that money available next year.

The commission plans to continue discussing the issues with airport officials next week.

• Approved, 3-0, three personnel requisitions - one for Moffat County Social Services and two for the Treasurer's Office.

Social Services seeks to hire a staff assistant, which is an existing, full-time position that opened up after an employee resigned.

The Treasurer's Office also had a clerk resign and needs a replacement. The position is full-time and already included in the office's budget.

The final position approved Monday is a part-time Treasurer's Office assistant who will mail delinquent tax notices. The job is slated to last two weeks.

Other action

At its meeting Monday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Voted, 3-0, to table discussion of funding the Craig/Moffat County airport an additional $4,434 to complete a planned overlay of the front parking lot.

The project’s price more than doubled since it originally was conceived in 2008 – from about $79,000 to about $170,000 – because contractors now must abide Federal Aviation Administration construction requirements.

Last year, airport officials planned to use Colorado Department of Local Affairs dollars for the parking lot but had to use that money to build a new terminal after bids for the facility significantly were higher than expected.

This year, airport officials hope to use $130,000 of FAA entitlement funds for the parking lot, which means they have to follow FAA rules.

Since FAA requirements add a substantial cost, the airport project’s budget is short about $9,800. Officials plan to ask the Craig City Council for the other half of that difference tonight.

Since the FAA is responsible for the parking lot’s high price, the FAA should pay for the project, Commissioner Tom Gray said.

The FAA gives the airport $130,000 every year, Gray said, so the airport could wait one more year to pave the parking lot without using any local money.

Ray Beck, airport board chairman and city councilor, said the airport has other potential projects in line for FAA funding and would like to have that money available next year.

The commission plans to continue discussing the issues with airport officials next week.

• Approved, 3-0, three personnel requisitions – one for Moffat County Social Services and two for the Treasurer’s Office.

Social Services seeks to hire a staff assistant, which is an existing, full-time position that opened up after an employee resigned.

The Treasurer’s Office also had a clerk resign and needs a replacement. The position is full-time and already included in the office’s budget.

The final position approved Monday is a part-time Treasurer’s Office assistant who will mail delinquent tax notices. The job is slated to last two weeks.

Jeff Comstock said it’s only fair the public gets a chance to comment on the Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan for this area before the plan becomes final.

The public in this case includes Comstock’s employer, Moffat County, which he serves as natural resources director.

The pending Management Plan out of the BLM Little Snake Field Office in Craig will establish how the government manages all federal lands and minerals within its jurisdiction, which includes all of Moffat County.

Among the potential impacts to area landowners and industries is the possibility of classifying portions of local rivers with federal Wild and Scenic River designations.

Such a measure could prevent certain kinds of development, such as a farmer or rancher building water pumps to irrigate his or her fields.

The Moffat County Commission signed a letter Monday addressed to the Little Snake office, requesting the agency provide a new public comment period on any new wild and scenic analysis expected to be in the final Management Plan.

Bureau officials anticipate the plan will be released in August.

“The county is worried how these designations will affect private property rights, existing water rights and other things,” Comstock said.

What’s more, he added, the county expressed those concerns to the BLM before the agency released its draft Management Plan in February 2007.

The draft included recommendations for wild and scenic eligibility on almost 40 miles of rivers and creeks in Moffat County.

The BLM, however, never answered the county’s comments, Comstock said, and only plans to do so in the final Management Plan when there is no chance for further comment from the county or local residents.

“That just does not give us an opportunity for review, which we feel we’re entitled to,” Comstock said. “They ignored our comments on the draft, before the draft came out, and we want a chance to comment before the final.”

The local BLM office, however, does not see a reason to set aside a new comment period.

Jeremy Casterson, Little Snake planning and environmental coordinator, said the new material slated for the final Management Plan is only a more detailed explanation of why the agency made the decisions included in the draft.

“It’s not like we’re denying the public a chance to comment on wild and scenic suitability,” Casterson said. “The public, the county and all of our other cooperating agencies had a chance to comment. All we’re doing is clarifying some things and answering some questions.”

Casterson added the BLM had not received the county’s letter, and he did not know if the agency would agree to its request.

Comstock said he did not know what the county would do if the BLM refuses to provide a chance for new comments.

There is a 30-day protest period after the BLM releases its proposed final, but Comstock would not say whether the county would file a formal protest.

In addition to the protest period, the state gets 60 days for the governor’s consistency review. After those two processes are done, the BLM can sign the Management Plan into policy, which Casterson said the agency expects to do in June 2010.


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