To the Uncompahgre Field Office,
I am writing to express my enthusiastic support for including conservation efforts and designations during the Uncompahgre Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendment process. The public lands of the Western Slope and Southwest Colorado are truly special, providing immeasurable value to local communities, both in terms of environmental sustainability and recreational enjoyment.
I commend the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for its commitment to maintaining the delicate balance between resource management and environmental preservation. Through positive and forward-thinking actions, we can ensure the long-term health and vitality of the landscapes across the Uncompahgre Field Office.
The BLM must consider new ACEC nominations that meet the relevance and importance criteria during this process. The BLM should designate all previously analyzed Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, and consider new Areas of Critical Environmental Concern throughout the planning area. Areas like Elephant Hills outside of Paonia, Robideau-Potter-Monitor, and the Dolores River Canyon are prime examples of landscapes within the planning area worthy of additional protections.
The BLM must use updated inventories for lands with wilderness characteristics in its decision, and consider any new information submitted. In particular, BLM should update its inventory for lands contiguous with the Dolores River Canyon WSA (Wray Mesa, Nyswonger Mesa, Davis Mesa) and reassess its previous inventory to correct inaccurate boundary delineations at Dry Creek Basin and Camel Back WSA Addition.
As the BLM reconsiders the management of Lands with Wilderness Characteristics, the BLM should designate Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). WSAs are the BLM’s most durable and consistent tool to administratively protect wilderness characteristics. BLM should designate new WSAs or expand existing WSAs by designating adjoining lands with wilderness character, such as those at Camel Back WSA, Dolores River Canyon WSA, or Adobe Badlands WSA.
The BLM must expand the planning area to include subsurface minerals on all federal lands within the Uncompahgre Field Office, not just BLM surface-managed lands. By doing this, the BLM can fully protect landscapes within the Uncompahgre Field Office from the impacts of oil and gas leasing and development like the North Fork Valley.
Finally, the RMPA will in all likelihood reach its decision point after BLM’s Conservation and Landscape Health rulemaking is complete. If the rule is finalized before the completion of the Uncompahgre Field Office RMPA, the BLM must ensure that it conforms with the final rule.
I am excited about the positive changes that can be achieved through this collaborative effort. Thank you for your dedication to the Western Slope and Southwest Colorado and for considering the well-being of both the environment and the community in the RMP Amendment process.