BLM Conducts Scoping Discussion on the Dingell Act

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Photo by Jamie Swank

By Julie Johansen

Public scoping meetings were conducted via Zoom by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) this week to discuss amendments in the Moab, Price and Vernal areas identified in the recent John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (Dingell Act). Lance Porter, Green River District Manager, commented that this was an opportunity for the public to help the BLM identify what issues should be analyzed during the planning process for the Dingell Act mandates.

The areas open for comments included Jurassic National Monument, the John Wesley Powell Conservation Area, McKoy Flats, Green River Wild and Scenic River, the San Rafael Recreation Area, and the San Rafael Wilderness Area. Each area was introduced by BLM district managers in their respective areas as they begin the process of amending and removing them from their RMP (Range Management Plan). It was a collaborative planning activity.

Roger Banker, Vernal Field Office Manager, introduced the John Wesley Powell Conservation Area and McKoy Flats for comments. Comments included preserving the roads in that area, fossil conservation and the rights of Uintah County for the conservation area. In McKoy Flats, mountain bikes and urban interface, larger boundaries than the original lines, and a desire again to keep the county roads open were mentioned.

Dana Truman from the Price Field Office then called for comments on the Jurassic National Monument. The expansion of the area with the national name, the treasure trove of fossils being exposed and the natural habitat were all topics of concern from online listeners.

Chris Conrad, Price Field Office Manager, took comments about the Green River Wild and Scenic River area in Grand and Emery counties. A Grand County Commissioner called for conservation of the Labrynith Canyon area and requested closure to motorized vehicles, especially in the riparian areas. She also encouraged the protection of the bighorn sheep in this area. Others echoed their desire for silence in the area.

Conrad then discussed the change from wilderness study areas to wilderness designations (17,420 acres). Discussion included a plea to maintain air strips in these areas, while others hope to see a drop in the number of airstrips. The Division of Wildlife Resources said that they use aviation for wildlife management in the area.

Dana Truman, Assistant Field Manager in Price, then began discussion on the San Rafael Recreation Area. She stated that visitation in this area is expected to increase. Truman then discussed the 14 wilderness areas that surround the recreational area. She said that some commercial use would be authorized but most roads would be prohibited.

The concern was that almost 17,000 acres have been released from wilderness study areas and now they are trying to decide how to manage these areas. There was a call for the use of the Uintah and Emery County resource management plans for energy resources access and critical mineral locations.

The public was reminded that comments are due by Dec. 3. Following the deadline, these comments will be compiled by the BLM to make the scoping plan.

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