If you are anything like me, you may be overwhelmed with the amount of planning processes, comment periods, and public open house meetings currently underway across the Western Slope. From the US Forest Service and BLM to Delta County to the City of Delta, Master Plans are apparently the hot new trend in 2017. Since these plans will likely effect our home for years to come, it is critical for our community to be involved, engaged, and provide robust, substantive input. While it sounds like a lot to keep track of, have no fear – WSCC is here to help. Here is your guide to what’s going on, what WSCC is working on, and how you can get involved!
What’s Happening with Our Public Lands – Summer-Fall 2017
USFS GMUG PLAN REVISION – https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/gmug/landmanagement/planning
Forest Plans guide the management of our National Forests. They are usually updated every 15-20 years. The last completed Plan for GMUG was in 1983. So it’s time for an update! There are three phases to a Forest Plan: Assessment, Plan Development, and Monitoring.
Where are we now? GMUG is currently in the Assessment phase – As described by the USFS, “During this phase the forest managers evaluate broad topics such as air, soil, and water resources; recreation opportunities; and historical resources and uses. We collaboratively will identify and evaluate existing economic, social, and ecological conditions of your forest.” In this phase the public has the opportunity to provide input on the state of our forest.
How can I learn more? GMUG will host 8 public open house meetings in separate locations across the region. The first open house will take place in Delta on July 25 – join us as we learn more about the Plan Revision process and how you can stay involved! Check out this post on our website for more information.
How can you get involved with WSCC? We are currently reviewing areas within GMUG to recommend for potential Wilderness or Special Management designation. If you love Wilderness, we need your help! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
GMUG OIL & GAS Amendment UPDATE
In 1993, GMUG amended the Oil & Gas portion of the Forest Plan. Recently, GMUG has been instructed to update this document as well. While we have very limited details, the GMUG Oil & Gas amendment will be updated in a “separate, but concurrent” process to the GMUG Plan Revision. WSCC will be tracking this process very closely, and will provide more information as soon it becomes available.
GUNNISON PUBLIC LANDS INITIATIVE (GPLI) – https://www.gunnisonpubliclands.org/
GPLI was formed at the behest of Senator Bennet and Gunnison County Commissioners to form consensus on public lands issues. GPLI is a collaborative effort between public lands stakeholders – conservationists, hunters, anglers, water users, ranchers, mountain bikers, OHV users, etc. – to develop a unified, consensus proposal that will provide long-lasting stability and protections to public lands in the Gunnison County landscape.GPLI released the initial proposal in June 2017 which contains suggestions for public lands be protected as wilderness or special management areas. The group hopes that the proposal will serve as the basis for federal legislation in the future.
What’s WSCC got to do with this? Many of the areas recommended for Wilderness or Special Management fall within WSCC’s area of interest in the Lower Gunnison Watershed. GPLI is seeking robust public input on the proposal, which will be included in an updated version of the proposal in the future. We will be co-hosting hikes this summer with GPLI to evaluate a few of the proposed areas and solicit community feedback. Stay tuned for announcements on events.
DELTA COUNTY MASTER PLAN – https://www.deltacountyplan.com/
According to the county, the Master Plan is framed around this important question – How do we create opportunities for everyone to thrive while protecting the things that make Delta County unique? An updated Delta County Master Plan that will include two components: vision and goals for the future, and a Future Land Use Map and Plan (FLUP). The County will also produce a land use code assessment. The County outlines 4 phases to this process: Phase 1: Where are we Now?; Phase 2: Where Do We Want to Go?; Phase 3: How Will We Get There?; Phase 4: Taking Action
Where are we at now? According to the County’s timeline, we are currently in Phase 2. In Phase 1 included a series of “Visioning” meetings, along with Landowner meetings, were held throughout Delta County. Public input was also gathered through an online survey that closed July 8. There is a Planning Commission Meeting on July 26 at 5:30pm at the Delta County Courthouse.
What’s Next? We are keeping an eye on developments and will notify our members with the next opportunity for public involvement.
DELTA COUNTY RECREATION MASTER TRAILS PLAN – https://www.deltacountytrailsmp.com/
At the same time as the Delta County Master Plan, the county is also creating a Master Recreation Trails Plan that will inventory, assess, and map the recreation and public land resources in the county. The Master Trails Plan will also look for opportunities to create new trail connections and make recommendations to guide future allocation of resources. This process is funded by a grant from GOCO.
Where are we at now? The public input process is about to begin! Public Open Houses at Delta County Fairgrounds in Hotchkiss on July 31 from 4-7pm and at Bill Heddles Rec Center on August 1 from 4-7pm.
**UPDATE: Fill out this online survey from DHM Design, the trail plan consultants, on the current state of our trails!
CITY OF DELTA PARKS, RECREATION, OPEN SPACE, AND TRAILS (PROST!) MASTER PLAN
Not to be outdone, the City of Delta is also conducting a Master Plan for recreation. This process looks specifically at the City of Delta. Fort Collins firm Logan Simpson is leading these efforts, which included an open house in late June for residents to voice their opinions.
What’s Next? All Delta residents will be receiving a survey to complete. There will also be two additional community forums, one in late summer and one in the fall. At these meetings, Logan Simpson will present a comprehensive list of the projects and concepts the community has identified as priorities, and ask for feedback. Stay tuned for exact dates.
***UPDATE: And yes, there is an online survey for this too!
FRAM OIL AND GAS AMENDED ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
BLM recently released the amended EA for oil and gas development between Delta and Grand Junction. The development would include 108 oil wells to be drilled from 12 new pads. Fram originally proposed this plan in 2011; the plan has been amended to address inadequacies in the previous plan and EA. WSCC is reviewing the EA and working with partner organizations such as WCC to determine the appropriate response.
Where are we at now? BLM just extended the comment deadline to August 28. Comments can be submitted at the link above, along with the full EA document. WSCC will provides updates to our membership on how to get involved.
Wait, whatever happened to all that stuff we did before??
NATIONAL MONUMENTS REVIEW
WSCC, along with literally millions of others across the country, submitted substantive comments in support of our National Monuments. WSCC’s comments focused primarily on Bears Ears and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments, as they are the closest to our organization’s area of interest. The deadline ended on July 10, and the Department of the Interior is now reviewing the comments. Secretary Zinke has already threatened to reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. We will be keeping a close eye on any developments regarding our National Monuments, and ready to act if/when recommendations are made by Sec. Zinke.
**UPDATE: Secretary Zinke recently announced that no modifications will be made to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. While this is certainly good news, we aren’t celebrating. An attack on one monument is an attack on all. We are expecting to hear word on more National Monuments, including Bears Ears, on or around August 24.
BLM UFO RMP
Summer-Fall 2016 was an incredibly active time for us all on the Western Slope. The Uncompahgre Field Office of the BLM started their Resource Management Plan process, and we submitted a very lengthy and substantive document supporting the North Fork Alternative. Although the public comment period ended, we are still very actively engaged with the BLM and other groups through quarterly meetings and status updates. We anticipate a final RMP will be released in 2018.
SBEADMR – Spruce Beetle Epidemic and Aspen Decline Management Response
SBEADMR is a USFS initiative to address the effects of the Spruce Beetle epidemic and Sudden Aspen Decline, by treating affected stands, improving resiliency, and reducing safety threats associated with dead/dying trees.
***August SBEADMR Field trips have been scheduled.
Wed. 8/9/2017 East Zone – Sergeants Mesa – salvage site
Wed. 8/16/2017 West Zone – Hige Mesa area, Gunnison County, SW of Silver Jack reservoir, Ouray Ranger District
Wed. 8/23/2017 North Zone – Overland/Reservoir/Hubbard Park are north of Paonia
Clear as mud, right? Contact us to get involved!