The Bureau of Land Management will “work together” with Wyoming and others to finalize a plan for future uses of 3.7 million acres of federal public land in the Rock Springs area, agency Director Tracy Stone-Manning said Thursday.
Stone-Manning extended the deadline for public comments on the agency’s draft Rock Springs Resource Management Plan, draft environmental impact statement and proposed “areas of critical environmental concern” by 60 days to Jan. 17, 2024. The plan seeks “a balance of opportunities” to use and develop public resources “while promoting environmental conservation.” The final plan will guide management of a Connecticut-sized swath of southwest Wyoming for years.
Gov. Mark Gordon blasted the draft, which is driven by conservation priorities, and called for its withdrawal. Others believe environmental constraints would be ruinous for the state. But conservationists heralded a balance they say hasn’t been on the agency’s agenda before now.
What they said
“A lot of work happens between a draft plan and a final plan, and that work is best informed by people who roll up their sleeves to work together,” Stone-Manning said in a statement. “We are committed to doing that work to finalize the final plan.”
Gordon is “disappointed” that the agency didn’t withdraw the draft proposal, according to a statement from his office. Nevertheless, “this extension will allow Wyoming citizens additional opportunities for engagement in this important process,” his statement said.
Gordon directed the University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute to hold workshops on the plan and said the BLM agreed to participate.
The Wilderness Society is pleased to see productive engagement from Wyoming’s elected leaders “after weeks of insults and inflammatory rhetoric” about the draft document, Wyoming Senior Manager Julia Stuble said in a statement. The extension will allow the BLM to engage tribal nations for “government-to-government consultation,” she said.
What’s at stake
At issue is what weight the federal agency will give to Wyoming’s desire for continued liberal access to grazing, oil and gas development, motorized recreation and other similar uses. In a state where about 48% of the land is managed by the federal government, some residents and state politicians feel hamstrung by its largest landlord.
The BLM manages the 3.7 million acres covered by the plan — and a total 18.4 million acres statewide — for all 333 million Americans. Wyoming’s population of 581,381 amounts to less than two tenths of a percent of the country’s total headcount.
Below are links to some WyoFile news reports and opinion pieces published about the draft Rock Springs area Resource Management Plan revision.
BLM releases long-awaited management plan for Red Desert region
by Katie Klingsporn
‘Conservation’ proposal for SW Wyoming would limit large energy projects
by Dustin Bleizeffer
BLM’s new management plan balances conservation, energy extraction
Opinion by Sadie Valdez
BLM’s plan for SW Wyoming protects wildlife, preserves our way of life
Opinion by Dan Stroud
Freedom Caucus wages another deliberate campaign of misinformation
Opinion by Kerry Drake
Rock Springs RMP Revision e-planning portal
Read the plan and comment on it