If you’ve been following the multi-year saga of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Tres Rios Field Office (TRFO) Resource Management Plan (RMP), then you know a lot is at stake. As we highlighted in a previous post, this planning document sets the ground rules for how 500,000+ acres of land and 804,000 acres of federal mineral estates will be managed in southwest Colorado.
The following is SJCA’s Press Release regarding the finalized plan. In summary…. utterly disappointing. We continue to hope for leadership and true community engagement from the TRFO – and continue to be led astray by their pretense of caring. At the end of the day, this planning document speaks loudly and clearly: the BLM TRFO does not much care about respecting the values of this community. It is much more interested in evading its responsibilities and ceding control of our public lands to the highest bidder.
More to come from SJCA on this. Much, much, more…
For Immediate Release
Bureau Of Land Management Resource Management Plan Fails To Protect Community Health, Interests and Values
Durango, CO – February 27, 2015 – Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tres Rios Field Office (TRFO) finalized its long-awaited Resource Management Plan (RMP). This planning document, which will set the standards for how over 500,000 acres of surface land and 800,000 acres of federal mineral estates are managed, is an unfortunate and inexcusable continuation of the TRFO’s poor stewardship of the community and environmental health it is entrusted with protecting.
San Juan Citizens Alliance (SJCA) was one of over 20 organizations that lodged formal protests against the plan. Those protests contained over 100 individual points of concerns from organizations as varied as Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Southwest Water Conservation District, Montezuma County, and SJCA. Of those 100+ protests points, the BLM addressed only three, denying the merits of all other community concerns.
“What could have been an example for how BLM works with affected communities to ensure their values, interests, and health are protected has instead devolved into a lowest-common denominator planning document that provides woefully insufficient protections for wildlife, roadless areas, regional air quality and landowners confronted with haphazard oil and gas development. More galling is their evasion of responsibility for managing greenhouse gases associated with oil and gas development from federally owned minerals,” said Jimbo Buickerood, Public Lands Coordinator at SJCA.
The BLM had the opportunity to invite the protesting parties to the table to discuss solutions and chose not to do so. Even in instances where they noted deficiencies, the BLM fails to commit to timelines for their resolution. Further, all but a few of the stipulations included in the RMP designed to ensure safeguards for water supplies, wildlife, noise pollution, rare species and special areas can be either excepted, modified or waived.
Summarizing the frustration felt by many local government officials, La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt explained, “Right from the start, La Plata County made it clear that we wanted the BLM to take a closer look and avoid conflicts between oil and gas and the interests of local landowners though a Master Leasing Plan. Those requests fell on deaf ears, and unfortunately, the BLM put the interests of a few oil and gas companies ahead of landowners in La Plata County.”
With this planning document, the BLM is simply evading its responsibilities. For a concrete example: while the BLM has widespread authority through the RMP to help guide the sequencing of fossil fuel development by proactively planning for roads, pipelines, compressor stations and other infrastructure, in this RMP they instead choose to allow “a natural progression” of development to occur across public and private lands – “natural” in this case being a progression solely defined by industry.
SJCA and its partners will continue to explore all avenues at our disposal to correct this failed planning document and to ensure that the health and values of affected communities are fully protected by BLM management protocols.
About San Juan Citizens Alliance
The San Juan Citizens Alliance advocates for clean air, pure water, and health lands – the foundations of resilient communities, ecosystems and economies in the San Juan Basin. For more information, visit our website at https://www.sanjuancitizens.org, on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/san-juan-citizens-alliance, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sanjuancitizens, or follow San Juan Citizens Alliance on Twitter at @SJCAlliance.
San Juan Citizens Alliance
Jimbo Buickerood, Public Lands Coordinator
P.O. Box 2461
1309 East 3rd Avenue, Suite 5
Durango, CO 81302
970 560-1111 Mobile
970-259-3583 ext. 2