DOLORES - The Bureau of Land Management has released its Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan for the Tres Rios Field Office.
The multi-agency planning effort, which included extensive public participation to determine suitable uses in the planning area, provides up-to-date oil and gas leasing directions on more than 500,000 acres of public lands, provides overall direction for over 800,000 acres of BLM-administered subsurface mineral estate, authorizes livestock grazing on more than 400,000 acres, and requires robust air quality protections and conservation measures for landscapes and wildlife.
The affected public lands contribute about $94.6 million to the local economy each year supporting over 3,000 jobs, according to the BLM.
"Completing the Approved RMP has been the primary goal for my staff for several years," said Connie Clementson, Tres Rios field manager. "We look forward to using the direction and guidance in the revised plan to make thoughtful and sound land management decisions on BLM lands in Southwest Colorado. Additionally, we look forward to working with our partners and the public while we implement the updated RMP."
The oil and gas leasing directions include about 280,000 acres designated as no surface occupancy, about 620,000 acres with controlled surface use stipulations and about 480,000 acres requiring timing limitations.
The Approved RMP also adopts the San Juan National Forest's oil and gas leasing decisions outlined in their Land and Resource Management Plan Record of Decision from September 2013.
Additionally, the Approved RMP incorporates the Colorado Air Resource Protection Protocol, which identifies the components necessary for statewide air quality protection on BLM-authorized activities within the Tres Rios Field Office region. Some measures include controlling venting of volatile organic compounds, implementitng emission reduction conditions from uncontrolled emissions, using vapor recovery units and other practices recognized by air quality regulatory agencies.
The Approved RMP also continues to authorize livestock grazing on about 420,000 acres of public lands. The Tres Rios Field Office will continue to maintain more than 100 active allotments serving 81 grazing permits (about 24,000 animal unit months) of forage for domestic cattle and sheep.
The ROD and Approved RMP also modified the proposed plan to include: seasonal closures to protect big game during critical winter months, aquatic ecosystems standards and guidelines, grazing allotment statuses, Wild and Scenic River suitability, a minor boundary change on Gypsum Valley Area of Critical Environmental Concern and Silverton area allowable uses.
"A plan amendment will soon follow the Record of Decision in order to consider proposed Areas of Critical Environmental Concern that were not fully analyzed in the Resource Management Plan," Clementson said.
The Approved RMP also determines conservation measures for the Gunnison Sage-Grouse including but not limited to projects designed to mitigate or avoid the loss of habitat.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Approved RMP includes four alternatives, including a No Action and a Preferred Alternative, and associated environmental consequences of each. The Final EIS also includes the analysis for both National Forest System lands affiliated with the San Juan National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan as well as BLM lands within the Tres Rios Field Office.
The Approved RMP for the Tres Rios Field Office is published separately from the San Juan National Forest ROD per BLM policy and regulation. The Approved RMP only includes the BLM section from its previous release in September 2013, which was combined with the San Juan National Forest. The Approved RMP applies only to public lands managed by the BLM. To review the documents and learn more about the planning process, go to http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/sjplc/land_use_planning.html.
For more information, contact the Tres Rios Field Office at 970-882-7296.