The 15-member Southwest Resource Advisory Council met at the Dolores Public Lands Center on March 8 for an all-day meeting. They heard updates from Southwest BLM field offices, including Tres Rios, Uncompahgre and Grand Junction.
“The council brings a lot to the table and has diverse membership to help the BLM balance their multiple-use mission,” said council member Tif Rodriquez, who represents horse users. “It’s good the meetings are happening again because they provide the public with up-to-date information on their public lands.”
A handful of citizens and representatives of Republicans Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner attended.
Meeting highlights include:
A presentation was made on the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and Dominguez Canyon Wilderness, designated by Congress in 2009. The area is in parts of Montrose, Delta and Mesa counties and includes a stretch of the Gunnison River. Meeting participants commended the effectiveness of the council on addressing various user needs while also adding protective measures. They said the grassroots effort involving all the different stakeholders was key to negotiating an NCA and new wilderness area that accommodates multiple recreational users, target shooters, a sensitive desert bighorn sheep population and ranchers. The BLM Dominguez-Escalante Advisory Council was disbanded at the end of the meeting.“The time and energy the volunteer council contributed is phenomenal,” said Ernie Williams, a member of the Southwest RAC.
The BLM and Colorado Canyons Association plan a small event to celebrate the NCA’s 10th anniversary.
The Grand Junction Field Office reported that construction has begun on the Palisade Plunge, a 30-mile mountain biking and hiking trail. The trail begins at the Mesa Top trailhead and descends to the Colorado River, ending in the town of Palisade. According to a project study, the trail would bring revenues to the Palisade economy.The Central Appalachia Mining company plans to submit an updated application for upgrades and rights of way to the McLane Mine, located in the Book Cliffs northwest of Grand Junction. Preliminary information indicates a plan for a rail spur, conveyor system, load-outs and other mining infrastructure.Wild horses gathered from the 2018 roundup of Little Book Cliffs Herd will be put up for adoption locally. About 50 horses were gathered in the roundup and sent to Canyon City for processing, which included banding, vaccinations, gelding and hoof trimming. About half were successfully adopted in November. The remaining 26 wild horses and two halter-gentled horses and two burros will be offered for adoption in Fruita on March 30 at Rimrock Adventures, 927 Highway 340. Viewing, applications and training demonstrations will begin March 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On March 30, viewing and applications begin at 8 a.m., and silent bid adoption begins at 10 a.m. For more information, visit BLM.gov/whb or call 866-468-7826.To accommodate increasing demand for recreation areas, the Grand Junction BLM Field office is considering a number of projects. They include a new Rabbit Valley Campground, new motorcycle trail at Bangs Canyon and an extension of the Sarlacc Trail north of Fruita to provide a single-track motorcycle loop trail. Providing for additional camping and events at the North Fruita Desert mountain biking area are also under consideration.In 2018, the Tres Rios BLM field office authorized construction of 22 more miles of nonmotorized single track trails and new parking lots in the Phil’s World area east of Cortez. In February 2018, an adjoining landowner filed an appeal with a Petition for Stay. The Stay was denied, and the appeal is in process. A new trail, Poquito Burrito, has been completed. Funding for parking lot and new trailheads has been secured, with construction scheduled to begin this spring.In the Dry Creek Basin area, the BLM mowed down 211 acres of pinon-juniper to improve habitat for the Gunnison sage grouse, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.In cooperation with Freeport -McMoRan Corp., the BLM is conducting mine safety closures in the Slick Rock and Egnar areas. After environmental analysis, Freeport completed 18 physical safety closures in 2018, and has 37 closures planned for 2019 east of Egnar.A fee increase is being considered for the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Visitor Center and Museum. Fees have not increased since 1993, and the proposal is to raise them from $3 to $5 year-round. BLM’s Tres Rios Field Manager Connie Clementson said the fee structure will continue to be analyzed, including whether the museum should be donation only, and if curation tours should have a fee, or continue to be free. She said some BLM sites have generated more revenues with a donation program when compared with a fee system.The CANM Visitor Center and Museum has been working on increasing storage capacity in the curation department by replacing old shelving with a high-density storage system. The first phase of the storage unit installation is complete. The effort will extend storage by more than 50 percent. Since 2015, the Tres Rios BLM has been conducting an inventory of roads and trails with public input. The BLM has been working with Montezuma, La Plata and Archuleta counties to develop a proposed action Transportation and Access Plan. A 30-day public scoping period is targeted for Spring 2019.The BLM Uncompahgre Field Office is preparing an environmental assessment to consider a proposal by Gunnison Energy LLC to drill and operate 35 horizontal wells from three new well pads, one existing well pad and one expanded well pad northeast of Paonia. The BLM plans to seek additional public comment because Gunnison Energy has changed its proposal to use the slickwater method of hydraulic fracturing instead of the nitrogen foam method.The BLM Uncompaghre Field Office is reseeding critical mule deer habitat burned by the 2018 Bull Fire, which that spread across 36,500 acres near Nucla. In February, reseeding efforts began for 6,400 acres of BLM lands impacted by the fire. The plan includes aerial distribution of 87,000 pounds of mixed grass and forb seed. The project is in cooperation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Mule Deer Foundation and a local rancher.The Uncompaghre Field Office is also planning for increased recreation demand. A cultural resources survey is being conducted in the Jumbo Mountain area in anticipation for a proposed trail system. Another trail system dubbed the Shavano Gateway is also under consideration, as are new trails in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation area, and around Nucla and Naturita.firstname.lastname@example.org