“The group could not pass a recommending resolution, so at this point it moves out of the advisory committee and over to the BLM to decide if the MLP goes forward or not,” said James Dietrich, a member of the SWRAC.
The stakeholder group advises the Bureau of Land Management on land issues and is made up of recreation, environmental and energy representatives. They make recommendations based on a majority vote from each group.
After months of public meetings and information gathering from a subcommittee, the 15-member committee reached an impasse on the MLP.
The Montezuma County commissioners have opposed an MLP, arguing that the BLM’s recently updated Resource Management Plan is adequate to regulate the industry. The commission supported a plan amendment, however, that would make the Phil’s World mountain bike park off limits to oil and gas development.
Conservationists argued an MLP was warranted to better manage industrial development for protection of land, wildlife, water, air quality, viewsheds and Native American cultural sites on BLM controlled lands in the area.
In June, a straw poll taken at a SWRAC meeting in Mancos leaned toward recommending against the MLP. But it evaporated in Gunnison after a vote to recommend the MLP not go forward failed to get a majority.
A second resolution to recommend the Resource Management Plan be amended to make the Phil’s World mountain bike area a no-surface occupancy zone for oil and gas development also failed.
“It got bogged down in minutia and details, then the scope of what the RMP plan amendment should include became too broad,” Dietrich said.
Colorado BLM Director Ruth Welch is expected to make the final decision soon on whether a MLP regulating oil and gas will go forward for the area. Developing an MLP will likely take a year or longer and involve public input.