Group expresses frustration with BLM

Brandon Johnson

The group working with the Bureau of Land Management to set public land policies in Northwest Colorado expressed concern last week with the bureau’s schedule, saying it makes public involvement difficult.

The Northwest Colorado Stewardship has worked with the bureau for the past four years on the resource management plan for the Little Snake Resource area. The resource area covers much of Northwest Colorado, including all of Moffat County.

The plan will help set the bureau’s policies for everything including oil and gas development on public lands, wilderness designations and off-highway vehicle use.

The diverse group is made up of representatives from the energy industry, ranchers, public-land advocates and government officials.

Last week, the group’s planning committee sent a letter to John Husband, field manager at the Little Snake Field Office.

In the letter, the group expressed concerns about the amount of time it has to review documents from the bureau.

Four members of the planning committee said the deadlines and the fact that the bureau has been late with some documents makes it nearly impossible for the group to reach a consensus.

“We will continue to request that NWCOS deadlines be extended by the same amount of time that BLM is behind in delivering the document to us,” committee members said in the letter.

Throughout the resource management plan process, the bureau has told the group that it would be more likely to adopt recommendations on which group members reach consensus than recommendations on which they don’t.

Marianna Raftopoulos, a former Moffat County commissioner who now represents oil and gas companies in the group, said members want to reach a consensus when possible. But it’s a challenge, she said.

“We’re committed to doing that,” said Raftopoulos, who signed the letter.

But last week, Husband said that although consensus is important, he doesn’t expect the group to reach agreement about all issues.

The bureau has to meet deadlines in the planning process, even if it means added pressure for the group, Husband said. Extending deadlines is unlikely, he said.

“It puts pressure on us, too,” Husband said.

Husband sent a letter back to the committee last week encouraging it to narrow its focus and not to try to do too much.

Part of the problem facing the group, Husband said, is that the bureau doesn’t commonly have this level of public input in the resource management plan process.

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