Utah BLM News Release

BLM Moab Field Office Announces Record of Decision for Approved Resource Management Plan

Contact: Shelley Smith, 435-259-2100

Moab, Utah—November 4, 2008—Bureau of Land Management Utah State Director Selma Sierra announces the release of the Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan for the Moab Field Office.  The Record of Decision was signed by Department of the Interior, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management C. Stephen Allred on October 31, 2008.  The signature of this document constitutes the final decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and makes the Approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) effective immediately.

“This plan achieves the charge Congress gave to BLM to manage the public lands for multiple use and sustained yield.  We greatly appreciate all the contributions to our new plan that were made by our cooperating agency partners and the many groups and individuals who participated in the planning process. We’re looking forward to working with our partners as well as other interested people to implement the plan’s decisions,” said Shelley Smith, Canyon Country District BLM manager.

The new plan represents important shifts in how BLM manages the 1.8 million acres of public land in the Moab Field Office.  It took approximately five years to complete.  During these five years, the Moab BLM involved the public in identification of issues to be resolved by the plan, compiled extensive background data including local economic information, reviewed the current management situation, carefully drafted alternatives to address the issues, shared the alternatives with the public and considered their comments in producing the final plan.
Key decisions in the plan include:

Travel management – The Moab Field Office is implementing a comprehensive travel management system that addresses access and travel needs, as well as a variety of recreational experiences.  A key shift is going from over one million acres of lands being open to cross country travel to the majority of lands being limited to a set of designated routes.  The only area in the Moab Field Office where cross country travel is still permitted is 1,866 acres in the White Wash Sand Dunes.  While most routes are designated for multi-purpose use, the plan also designates routes for mountain biking and motorcycle use. The designated travel routes are displayed on a map accompanying the plan.  This map is available at the Moab and Monticello Field Offices, or on the internet (see address below).  BLM will also be producing an official travel management map which will include additional information of interest to recreation visitors to the area. The plan also closes 339,000 acres to travel.

Minerals – The Moab Field Office has determined which lands should be open to leasing for oil and gas and other leasable minerals and under what conditions. The new plan opens no new acreage to oil and gas leasing. The RMP manages 370,000 acres as closed to leasing, 217,000 acres as subject to a no surface occupancy stipulation, 807,000 acres as open to leasing with special conditions, and 427,000 acres as open to leasing with standard conditions. These management actions also apply to saleable minerals including sand, gravel, and building stone.  In the 1985 Grand RMP, 1,038,000 acres were open to leasing with standard conditions, 390,000 acres were open to leasing with special conditions, and 38,912 acres were subject to a no surface occupancy stipulation.   Only the 353,000 acres in the Wilderness Study Areas were closed to leasing in the old plan.

Recreation – The Approved Resource Management Plan designates ten Special Recreation Management Areas within the Field Office.  These are areas that require more intensive management to provide recreation opportunities, experiences, or values. Additionally, the plan establishes recreation focus areas within some of the special recreation management areas to maintain or enhance opportunities for specific recreation uses such as equestrian use, rock climbing, motorized recreation, mountain biking, hiking, scenic driving, river use, and BASE jumping. 

Special  Designations – Five Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (63,232 acres) are designated in the approved resource management plan where special management attention is required to protect important values or public safety.  In addition, 151.5 miles of the Green, Colorado and Dolores Rivers have been found suitable for recommendation to Congress for inclusion in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Other resource decisions in the plan include the designation of utility corridors, right-of-way avoidance and exclusion areas, lands identified for disposal, lands available for livestock grazing, identification of areas to be managed for their wilderness characteristics, soil and watershed protection actions, management of habitat for special status species, designation of visual resource management classes, and management of wildlife habitat. 

The protest letters received on the plan were reviewed by the BLM Director in Washington, D.C.  After careful consideration of all points raised in these protests, the BLM Director’s analysis shows that BLM Utah followed all laws, regulations, policies, and pertinent resource considerations in developing the plan.  Minor clarifications resulting from this review are incorporated into the Approved Resource Management Plan and discussed in the Record of Decision.

Finally, the State of Utah Governor’s office exercised its right to review the plans and sent a letter concluding that the plan was consistent with State or local plans.  BLM is pleased with this outcome, because working with the State of Utah was of particular importance to Selma Sierra, the BLM Utah State Director.

Electronic copies of the Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan are available on the internet on the Moab Field Office web site at: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/planning.html