During the last month or so, as the Dolores Public Lands Office has re-initiated the Boggy Glade travel plan process, we have made a concerted effort to talk with our communities and listen to the public. We had a good turnout from people seeking information at our open houses and from those seeking to offer oral comments at our public hearings in Cortez and Dove Creek.
Overall we heard that local residents want to be able to access their public lands, both by motorized and non-motorized methods. We heard how important public lands are to contributing to folks’ livelihood. We heard that many people go out into the national forest seeking solitude.
Some people have told us that public use of the national forest should not be restricted and that they believe each person should be able to make his or her own decisions on what access is acceptable on these lands. We heard from those that say they are OK with designating a road/trail system as long as it allows for activities that are important to them. Others indicated they support providing blocks of forested areas for wildlife security.
I’ve enjoyed meeting with individuals and groups to discuss their concerns about access to camping sites, wood gathering areas and learn about routes that are important to them.
The decision that lies ahead is by no means easy. During the next few weeks, each and every public comment we received will be reviewed by me and my team. We will use those public comments to consider proposed changes in which routes to designate, important camping areas, access for parking, wood gathering and game retrieval. We also plan to make available to the public a written response to the comments we received.
The Boggy Glade environmental analysis will be updated to reflect changes we made as a result of this input. It will include additional analysis and then it will be sent back out for another 30-day comment period. Those who have commented or participated will receive notice of the document’s availability.
If you are not on our mailing list and would like to be please contact us. The analysis document will identify a ‘preferred alternative’ letting our communities know what we are thinking for a potential decision.
Even though this formal comment period has come to a close, I want to encourage people to continue to drop by the office or send us information about routes, camping sites and other information that you believe we need to be aware of. It is my intent to make the best informed decision that reflects a consideration of all the input we’ve received, while upholding our responsibility to manage the national forest as mandated by Congress on behalf of the people of this nation.
Connie Clementson is the Acting San Juan National Forest Dolores District Ranger and BLM Dolores Field Office Manager.