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Frequently Asked Questions

Purpose of the Price Resource Management Plan

What is the purpose of the Price Resource Management Plan (RMP) Revision?

The goal of the Price RMP is to develop a comprehensive management strategy to guide future management of public lands administered by the Price Field Office. This RMP combines two older land use plans, the Price River Resource Area Management Framework Plan (1983) and the San Rafael Resource Management Plan (1991) into a unified Price Field Office RMP.

The revision of the plans is a part of a national initiative to update all BLM resource management plans. This planning process enables land managers to incorporate new information on the uses and resources on the public lands. For example, since the plans were last updated, more people visit the public lands, recreational vehicles are capable of travel into more remote places, and new technology has enabled minerals to be extracted from deeper levels. The plan revisions take into account these changes, and allows for flexibility as changes occur in the future.

What do Resource Management Plans do?

Under Federal law, BLM prepares resource management plans to serve as a "guidebook" for managing for all activities occurring on BLM-managed lands. BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of public lands, and land-use planning is vital to our mission. RMPs establish guidance, objectives, policies and management actions for public lands administered by BLM. During the planning process, a wide variety of issues are addressed. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Air Quality
  • Cultural &Paleontology
  • Fire Management
  • Woodland Management
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Lands & Realty
  • Rangeland Management
  • Minerals Management
  • Off-Highway Vehicle Use
  • Recreation
  • Riparian Resources
  • Socio-economic
  • Vegetation & Special Status Plants
  • Visual Resources
  • Watersheds & Water Quality
  • Wilderness
  • Wild & Scenic Rivers
  • Special Management Areas
  • Wildlife Habitat & Special Animal Status Species
For additional information visit Chapter_1.

How is the public involved in the planning process?

BLM involves the public in the planning process right from the start. While collaborating with tribal, state, and local governments, BLM invites interested parties to participate so their needs can be addressed. This is the "scoping" phase of the planning process where issues are identified and evaluated. When Resource Management Plans are ready for review and public comment, BLM makes copies of the Draft Plans available to the public via the Internet at www.blm.gov/rmp/ut/price, requests for hard copies or CDs, and at all of Utah BLM's field offices. We encourage you to get involved in the planning process and to help determine how the public lands will be managed.

Throughout the planning process input from cooperating agencies was used and will continue to be used as we move forward to the Final EIS and into implementation and activity level planning. Cooperating agencies included the State of Utah and its agencies, Carbon and Emery Counties, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

How are the comments used to finalize the plan?

Analysis and response to comments related to the adequacy and accuracy of the EIS will be provided to the public in the Final EIS.

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Off-Highway Vehicle Management

What are we doing for OHV management in the RMP?

In the plan, two main decisions will be made concerning motorized access:
  1. Lands will be allocated as closed to motorized access, limited to designated routes, or open to cross country travel.
  2. Routes will be designated for areas in the "limited to designated routes" category.

Route designations will only need to occur on those lands in the Price River planning area and the previously "open" areas in the San Rafael Swell area. This is because routes were designated in the San Rafael Swell area under the 2003 San Rafael Route Designation Plan, and those will be incorporated in the plan. The RMP alternatives (except for the No Action alternative) are only considering open areas on a case-by-case basis under a Recreation and Public Purpose permit.

When the Record of Decision (ROD) is signed, there will be a network of routes designated for motorized use than can be mapped, signed, and enforced. To this end, BLM is considering and analyzing alternatives with the goal of providing motorized recreational opportunities while protecting sensitive resources and providing non-motorized recreational experiences.

How are routes being evaluated in the planning process?

The Draft RMP includes a range of alternatives to manage OHV use and route designations. These vary from providing a great deal of access in Alternatives A and B to limiting access to only county and system roads in Alternative C.

 No ActionAlternative AAlternative BAlternative CAlternative D
Open754,1930000
Limited1,590,5402,118,9802,076,0961,911,6212,076,096
Closed9,689360,264403,181568,099403,181

In the Price Field Office Area, there are approximately 3,500 miles of routes presently on the ground and documented on route inventory maps. Not all of these routes will remain open for motorized use in the Record of Decision. The following criteria will be used in considering whether to designate or not designate routes as open for motorized use:

  • Eliminate duplicate routes.
  • Provide access to dispersed camping areas.
  • Avoidance of routes that impact cultural sites, riparian and T&E habitats, critical soils, ROS Semi Primitive Non-Motorized Areas
  • Protection of scenic values and historic features
  • Reduce user conflicts
  • Promote loop trails
  • Routes will not be designated in WSAs and ROS "Primitive" class.

The alternatives presented in the DRMP/EIS analyze the trade-offs of different management scenarios and decisions.

This route designation process has already taken place for nearly 50% of the Price Field Office in the San Rafael Route Designation Plan (2003). The Plan designated 677 miles of routes as open for motorized use. The decisions made will be carried forward in the final Resource Management Plan. The 1991 San Rafael Resource Management Plan directed the Price Field Office to develop a route designation plan for motorized recreation vehicles. This route designation plan took a number of years to complete and was finalized in February, 2003. Because of the growth in the popularity of ATV use in Utah and motorized use on public land, it is imperative that there be a motorized route designation plan when the Record of Decision is signed. This issue/concern was brought up by the public during the scoping meetings in January, 2002.

Why is BLM taking the approach of actually designating the routes in the plan? What flexibility will there be after the final decision?

Utah BLM has chosen to go beyond the national policy direction related to OHV decisions in RMPs and not only designate areas as open, closed, or limited, but also completing route designations concurrent with the RMP finalization. This is a tremendous undertaking, but we believe it is vitally important in order to eliminate cross-country travel and the pioneering of new routes. While we anticipate there will be route adjustments, additions, and motorized closures in the future (requiring further site-specific analysis), we believe the establishment of a route network that can be implemented on the ground is well worth the effort.

When will the route designations be implemented?

BLM will continue the implementation of the San Rafael Motorized Route Designation Plan and will add the designated routes in the remainder of the field office when the Record of Decision is signed. Implementation of the route designation decision will included route marker signs, installation of kiosks, and production of travel maps.

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ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

Where are known energy resources found in the Price Field Office Management Area?

Known mineral resources such as oil, gas, and coal are found primarily in certain localities within the 2.8 million acres of public lands and mineral estate (federal minerals are under Forest Service, state, or private lands) managed by the Price Field Office.

Mineral deposits are controlled by the geological conditions under which they were formed. Based on our current understanding of the geology in the Price Field Office, the highest potential for natural gas and coal exist in a narrow band (often referred to the "energy arc") that begins in the southwestern part of the field office and continues along the western, northern, and northeastern boundaries. Along the western boundary, the Ferron Natural Gas Field (just west of Hwy 10), uses some of the newest technology to preclude coal-bed methane and has potential for further development. State-of-the-art equipment and application of best management practices at this location has allowed for extraction of mineral resources with minimal impacts to the other resources in the area.

Recent public interest and media attention has focused on the Bookcliffs region where the West Tavaputs Plateau and Nine Mile Canyon are located (northern and northeastern boundary of the field office). Oil and gas leases and development have existed in this area since the 1950s; however, energy prices and advanced technology which allows for exploration and production from deeper formations have renewed interest in the area. The Draft RMP has taken this into consideration for the mineral resources that exist in this area as well as other resources For example, Nine Mile Canyon is also known for its high concentration of rock art and desert bighorn sheep. BLM uses numerous tools to accommodate mineral extraction and still protect other resources. Some of the tools consist of "No Surface Occupancy," "Seasonal Closures" for wildlife purposes, Best Management Practices (including inventory and avoidance of cultural/archeological sites), and Visual Resource Management Classifications.

The field office also manages 11 underground coal mines. Significant amounts of coal have been and continue to be produced from coal deposits found on the Wasatch plateau within the field office. Additional undeveloped coal reserves remain in an "arc" similar to that described above for oil and gas. Other minerals such as well as humate, gypsum, and hard rock mines are also present in the planning area. All of these resources are either being developed currently or have been developed in the past. While uranium mining was very active in this area during the 1930s and 1940s, these types of mining operations are not economically viable today.

View the RMP Coal Report with maps of known recoverable coal resources.

View maps of mineral resources in the Price Field Office.

How much land is closed and how much is open to oil and gas leasing in the Draft Plan?

In the land use planning process, areas are identified as: open lease areas with standard lease terms, open lease areas with controlled surface use stipulations, open lease areas with no surface occupancy stipulations, and closed to leasing. Standard Lease Terms require the lessee to comply with all federal laws and regulations (including endangered species, water quality, etc.); "Controlled Surface Use" may require certain additional stipulations such as seasonal restrictions for wildlife; "No Surface Occupancy" only allows for drainage or directional drilling from another area; and "Closed" areas are those where drilling activities are not compatible with management of other uses.

BLM has considered a range of alternatives using all four of these categories:

Leasing CategoryNo ActionAlternative AAlternative BAlternative CAlternative D
Standard Lease Terms (acres)992,0001,871,000001,183,000
Controlled Surface Use (acres)1,137,00001,694,0001,531,000574,000
No Surface Occupancy (acres)221,00073,000234,000341,000149,000
Closed to Leasing (acres)128,000546,000547,000620,000584,000

Why are lands open to mineral development, if they have low mineral potential?

Under the Mineral Leasing Act, and the Energy Policy Conservation Act, BLM is required to make lands available for lease and invoke the least restrictive leasing criteria necessary to protect other resource values. Because of this, much of the resource management area is open to oil and gas leasing; however, actual development would likely occur predominantly in high potential areas in the field office (the "arc" mentioned above).

View the map of map of coal bed methane occurrence potential.

View the Conventional Oil and Gas Occurrence Potential.

View maps of Fluid Mineral Leasing Alternatives:

This is seen in the San Rafael area. While most of the "Reef" is closed to leasing because of the very unique resources are found there, the interior of the Swell is open to leasing under special stipulations. However, since the interior of the Swell has low mineral potential, it is unlikely that oil and gas development would occur there (currently, there are no discoveries or infrastructure for transporting gas out of this area).

How has information from the Energy Policy and Conservation Act been used in the plan?

The Price Resource Management Plan has been identified as a "time sensitive plan" to timely address energy resources studied under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA, 2000). Under EPCA, federal agencies were tasked with developing a national inventory of all mineral resources and reserves beneath federal lands and determine if any unnecessary impediments to access were present (i.e. are necessary and proper stipulations in place for oil and gas leasing). This data is now being incorporated into RMPs to plan for multiple uses on the public lands, and specifically plan for the responsible development of energy resources in these areas. The EPCA inventory will be used to determine oil and gas leasing stipulations and lease restrictions. It will also be used to determine criteria for waivers, exceptions, and modifications. In some cases the review may result in strengthening stipulations or lessening stipulations dependent upon the current conditions being addressed. Reviewing the stipulation information cannot supersede any of the laws and regulations that BLM must already follow. For more information on EPCA, visit www.ut.blm.gov/landuseplanning/energy.htm.

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SPECIAL MANAGEMENT

What special management tools does BLM use in the planning process?

BLM has various tools to manage for special values or uses on the public lands. These include Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (special management for significant resources or hazards), Wild and Scenic Rivers (management for wild, scenic, and recreational values of various river segments), and Wilderness Study Areas (management for natural characteristics and primitive recreation).

How have Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) been considered during the planning process?

Currently the Price Field Office has 13 ACECs covering 273,000 acres. These ACECs have been designated to highlight specific significant resources or hazards where special management measures are needed to prevent irreparable damage. The ACEC designation enables land managers to specifically address the resource or hazard, while allowing other uses to occur that do not damage the resource or value of concern.

Most of the potential ACECs being considered in the plan are located in the northern portion of the Field Office (The former Price River Resource Management Area). ACECs had not been considered in the existing management plan for this area. Some of the potential ACECs under consideration include Nine Mile Canyon, Range Creek, and Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.

In many alternatives the existing ACECs have been carried forward because they have provided adequate protection for the resources in the past. Additions and/or adjustments to existing ACECs have also been considered in the plan, particularly in the San Rafael Area.


No Action AlternativeAlternative AAlternative BAlternative CAlternative D
13 ACECs
273,000 acres
9 ACECs
195,000 acres
15 ACECs
522,000 acres
19 ACECs
632,000 acres
15 ACECs
461,000 acres

How is the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act considered in the plan?

The Wild and Scenic River Act requires all federal agencies to consider the potential for national wild, scenic and recreational river areas during land use planning. BLM does this by following a process to determine eligibility, suitability, and tentative classifications for potentially eligible rivers identified during planning. For more information on Wild and Scenic Rivers, visit  http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/wild_and_scenic_rivers.html.

In the preferred alternative BLM considers the following as being suitable for Congressional designation into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System: 122 miles of the Green River as "scenic" and 101 miles of the Green River (between Desolation and Labyrinth canyons) and the San Rafael River (through the Swell) as "recreational." Segments of the Green River were considered for their outstanding remarkable values of cultural, historic, recreation, scenic, geology, fish, wildlife, paleontology, and ecology. Segments of the San Rafael River were considered for their outstanding remarkable values of historic, cultural, scenic, wildlife, recreation, fish, ecology, and geology.

 
No ActionAlternative AAlternative BAlternative CAlternative D
Protective interim management on eligible segments:
273 miles wild
238 miles scenic
130 miles recreational
Protective management on suitable segments:
80 miles scenic
45 miles recreational
Protective management on suitable segments:
79 miles wild
69 miles scenic
74 miles recreational
Protective management on suitable segments:
273 miles wild
238 miles scenic
130 miles recreational
Protective management on suitable segments:
122 miles scenic
101 miles recreational
(The Green River between Desolation and Labyrinth Canyons, and the San Rafael River through the San Rafael Swell.)

Why do some management decisions overlap areas (layering) in the plan?

The Bureau of Land Management has different tools that allow us to manage areas for different purposes. For this reason, management decisions may overlap areas in the plan. An example would be the Range Creek area in the Bookcliffs. The State of Utah manages a narrow strip of property and has gated the area. They are considering offering educational programs in the future. The BLM public lands in the area are Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). These areas are protected, but do not necessarily prescribe managing for educational program. In order to be consistent with the state property and still maintain the wilderness values, Range Creek is being proposed as an Area of Critical Environment Concern. This land would remain a WSA until Congress decides to designate it or not as Wilderness; however, under the ACEC designation the Bureau could manage and partner with the state for educational programs.

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WILDERNESS CHARACTERISTICS

How are wilderness characteristics addressed in the plan?

Wilderness characteristics such as solitude, primitive recreation, and naturalness are a part of the land use planning process and will be addressed along with all other resource values and uses. While BLM will not designate additional Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in the planning process, the agency will consider new information on resource values and uses, including wilderness characteristics.

Approximately 532,852 acres of existing WSAs will continue to be managed under the Interim Management Policy for Lands under Wilderness Review, (IMP) until Congress either designates them into the National Wilderness Preservation System or releases them from further wilderness study. The plan will establish OHV designations for the WSAs that are consistent with the IMP. How the WSAs will be managed should Congress release them from wilderness study is also considered.

Non-WSA lands with or likely to have wilderness characteristics are also considered during planning. Management of natural character and opportunities for primitive recreation and solitude are among the multiple resource values considered when alternatives were developed. These considerations are reflected in "visual resource" classifications, OHV designations, special recreation management areas, motorized route designations, and mineral leasing stipulations, among many other management schemes considered in the range of alternatives identified in Chapter 2 of the draft RMP/EIS.

In addition, non-WSA lands with or likely to have wilderness characteristics are identified in Chapter 3, "Affected Environment," (3.2.11) and impacts to naturalness and opportunities for primitive recreation and solitude are addressed in Chapter 4, "Environmental Consequences," (4-480).

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