BLM RMP Take 3 – Sign the Petition and Find More Information Here

By WSCC 4 months ago

The North Fork Valley is famous for its scenic beauty, rugged landscapes, and wild rivers, but it’s up to us to keep it that way for future generations. We need your help to protect what makes our community such an exceptional place to live, work, and raise a family. 

Did You Know? The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Uncompahgre Field Office (UFO) manages nearly 900,000 acres of public lands in southwestern Colorado, including four river systems: the Gunnison, San Miguel, Dolores, and Uncompahgre.

Right now, the BLM is reconsidering a land-use plan, known as a Resource Management Plan (RMP), that will guide how public lands in the Uncompahgre District are managed for the next 15-20 years, deciding which areas will be protected for wildlife, water, and outdoor recreation and which will be opened to development like oil and gas. On January 5th, 2024, the BLM began a scoping period for this process. This started a public comment period that ends Tuesday, February 20th, 2024. This is a pivotal moment for all those who cherish clean air and water, public lands, open space, and wildlife.

Community-Powered Conservation 

Protecting the western slope from oil and gas leasing and other forms of development has been a decade-long fight.

2010: When the agency first initiated this process, the North Fork Valley communities came together to create a proposal (called Alternative B1 and often referred to as the North Fork Alternative) with a shared vision that ensured strong protections for water, wildlife, and delicate ecosystems in the valley. Initially, things looked promising when the agency released its draft plan that included the North Fork Alternative, along with other alternatives that the public could comment on.

2020: The BLM issued its final RMP, which opened the majority of the public lands in the region to oil and gas leasing and development – going against the community’s vision for a sustainable future and kowtowing to special interests. 

2021: After the agency approved of the plan, the Western Slope Conservation Center and other entities like the State of Colorado filed lawsuits to push back on the amount of acreage open to oil and gas development and protect vulnerable landscapes in the region. The lawsuits were settled, and the agency was sent back to the drawing board.

Today: The agency is now in the “scoping phase” for the RMP Amendment, which involves re-analyzing critical aspects of the previous RMP, including oil and gas leasing and conservation designations. This is our opportunity to send a clear message: the North Fork Valley wants a land-use plan that protects our clean air and water, wide open spaces, and way of life.

Why We Need Your Help

The BLM’s final RMP deferred to corporate special interests, one that sought to remove most management constraints from oil and gas development for the North Fork and across the entire resource area. We have a 45-day window, ending February 20th,  to move this land-use plan back on the right track.

Here are some of the values we are working to protect in the North Fork Alternative

Clean and dependable water supplies are essential to the delicate balance of ecosystems, sustain wildlife habitats, and ensure the well-being of local communities, as clean water is a fundamental resource vital for both environmental health and human prosperity.

Preserving agriculture is crucial for sustaining the region’s cultural heritage, supporting local economies, and fostering a resilient and diverse landscape.

Ensuring the protection of towns, schools, and community spaces is vital for maintaining the social fabric and quality of life on the Western Slope, fostering vibrant, resilient communities that are integral to the region’s identity and sustainable development.

Safeguarding river areas and riparian corridors is critical for biodiversity, maintaining water quality, and supporting ecosystem resilience.

Conserving wildlife is essential to maintain ecological balance, preserve biodiversity, and the overall health of the Western Slope’s ecosystems.

Here are some of the key problems in the final RMP that we need your help to overturn

Opened Public Land for Oil and Gas Development: The final RMP opened 95% of public lands in the area to oil and gas development like oil and gas, focusing on heavy resource extraction primarily in the North Fork and Lower Gunnison Watersheds.

Reduced Protections: The plan drastically decreased protections for vulnerable landscapes, water sources, and wildlife habitat and migration corridors. 

Ignored Public Input: The plan introduced a new alternative outside of the draft plan without any public input. That plan aligns with the corporate special interests energy agenda, not our community’s vision.

It is critical for the Bureau to hear from the public! Your voice can strengthen this plan and help us to better protect the western slope of Colorado. By submitting a comment to the BLM, you are giving the environment a voice and advocating for conservation of our public lands. Don’t miss this chance to influence a decision that safeguards jobs, local businesses, and wildlife. Information and comment link are available on the BLM’s Uncompahgre RMP Amendment eplanning site. See our resources below for more information about writing effective comments and talking points for your comments.

Resources

WSCC Community-led petition advocating for land designations and protections of resources from oil and gas development

WSCC sample comment letter – submit to the BLM’s planning site linked below

BLM’s eplanning page with information on the process

BLM’s Area of Critical Environmental Concern Fact Sheet

BLM’s Oil and Gas Fact Sheet

BLM’s Lands with Wilderness Characteristics Fact Sheet

BLM’s How to Comment Fact Sheet

Rocky Mountain Wild’s Writing Comments That Stick

Join Our Movement

The Uncompahgre RMP Amendment process follows a structured decision-making framework and is guided by public engagement every step of the way. 

This amendment process provides a crucial opportunity to rightset past wrongs and create a legacy of responsible land stewardship for years to come.

We hope you join us.

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