The BLM’s Tres Rios office in Dolores is proposing to designate 16 new sections of public lands in Southwest Colorado as “areas of critical environmental concern.”
Officials are seeking comment on the proposal, which includes re-analyzing two such current ACEC areas. In all, the proposal covers 130,000 acres in Montezuma, Dolores, San Miguel, San Juan and Montrose counties.
“We are considering these areas for special features such as occupied Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat, archaeological sites, rare plants, alpine tundra and paleontological sites,” said Tres Rios field manager Connie Clementson.
The areas are being evaluated within a management plan amendment in order to be considered for an ACEC designation.
Many of the nominated areas are on the Lower Dolores River basin including 650 acres of Coyote Wash, 12,000 acres in the Dolores River Canyon, 3,600 acres in the Slick Rock area, 24,000 acres in the Snaggletooth section, 3,000 acres in McIntyre Canyon, 700 acres at Livey’s Pocket and 700 acres at Muleshoe Bench.
Other local areas proposed for the ACEC title include 1,300 acres at the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park, 2,700 acres in Disappointment Valley, 25,500 acres in Spring Creek Basin area where there is a herd of wild horses, 4,000 acres at Northdale near Dove Creek and 35,000 acres at Dry Creek Basin.
On BLM land near Silverton, the areas of Cinnamon Pass, Cement Creek, and Lake Como have also been nominated.
An area of Anasazi Culture at Mud Springs (1,200 acres) and the Big and Little Gypsum Valleys (13,200 acres) are currently designated as ACECs.
Congress mandated that the BLM consider designating ACECs through the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
These areas are places where special management attention is needed to protect and prevent irreparable damage to important historic, cultural and scenic values; fish, wildlife resources or other natural systems or processes; or to protect human life and safety from natural hazards. ACEC’s do not receive additional funding.
“After the public scoping, the BLM will review the comments and develop an Environmental Assessment,” said Shannon Borders, BLM public information officer. “If designated as an ACEC, the BLM determines what management prescriptions are necessary to protect the relevant and important values.”
To learn more about ACEC’s go to Appendix U of the Tres Rios Resource Management plan at http://on.doi.gov/1QKmCfO.
Comments will be most helpful if received by April 4, 2016. Written comments should be directed to the BLM, Attn. Gina Jones, 2465 S. Townsend, Montrose, CO 81401, or submitted electronically to [email protected]