From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 1 - April 4, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Jack Morrow Hills alternatives revealed

Jack Morrow Hills alternatives revealed

The Bureau of Land Management has proposed four alternatives for management of the Jack Morrow Hills (JMH) area near Farson and will hold public meetings next week for review and comment on these alternatives.

The alternatives range from current management, to no development and reduced opportunities for use. The alternatives were prepared as part of the process for the preparation of a supplemental environmental impact statement for the area.

No-Action Alternative: The No Action Alternative is defined as a continuation of the present course of action until that action is changed. Ongoing programs initiated under existing legislation and regulations would continue, even as new plans are developed. Thus, this alternative addresses the current land management decisions stated in the Green River Resource Management Plan (GRRMP), dated October 1997, that provided for multiple use management of public lands and resources to meet foreseeable needs. The No Action Alternative allows for development of valid existing rights within the core area until decisions regarding any changes or restrictions are made through this planning process.

Alternative 1: This alternative provides for expanded opportunities to use and develop the planning area but resources would still be protected to the extent required by applicable laws and regulations. Alternative 1 would allow new leases and permits for oil, gas, and mineral development throughout the planning area, to the degree possible, consistent with existing regulatory requirements and statutory withdrawals and closures. There would not be any discretionary mineral withdrawals pursued. No additional areas would be considered for Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) and there would not be any changes proposed for Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Rangelands and riparian areas would be improved and maintained by methods that would not adversely burden the livestock industry. This alternative could result in modifications or amendments to previous land management decisions stated in the GRRMP.

Alternative 2: This alternative reduces opportunities to use and develop the planning area. The alternative focuses on improving and protecting habitat for wildlife and sensitive plant and animal species, improving riparian areas and water quality, and protecting historic, cultural, and Native American sites. Boundaries of existing ACECs would be expanded as necessary to protect sensitive resources and Research Natural Area designations would be pursued as appropriate. Additional areas would be considered as WSAs. Recreation project plans and interpretive prospectus would be prepared for specific areas of interest and other recreation activities would be allowed provided no incompatible uses occur.

Development would be allowed on existing leases throughout the planning area and exchanges would be pursued for leases in sensitive areas where development activity may have irreversible adverse effects. Extraction of viable resources on leases held by production would continue until economic reserves are recovered. No new leases would be offered in areas of sensitive resources or in pending WSA designations or ACEC expansions. The rate of development on existing leases would be based on sensitive resource indicators. If these indicators are reached, any further development would be controlled and mitigated to prevent the decline of the sensitive resource indicators. Additional withdrawals from locatable minerals would be pursued for elk birthing areas. Livestock grazing improvements would be limited except to improve sensitive resources. This alternative could result in modifications or amendments to previous land management decisions stated in the GRRMP.

Alternative 3: This alternative provides opportunities for use and development of the planning area while ensuring resource protection. Alternative 3 would allow mineral development and other activities as long as sensitive resource values are protected from irreversible adverse effects. This would be accomplished through an adaptive management approach. Development would be allowed on existing leases throughout the planning area and new leases would be offered. There could be areas that would be closed to new leases because proposed stipulations and conditions of approval could effectively preclude surface disturbance in order to protect overlapping resources. The rate of development on existing and new leases would be based on sensitive resource indicators. If these indicators are reached, any further leasing and development would be controlled and mitigated to protect the sensitive resources. The cause of adverse effects on sensitive resources would be determined and monitored, and further leasing, development, and other activity decisions would be made based on the significance of these effects. Evaluations would be completed to determine where and when leasing or other activities could occur and what mitigation measures would be necessary to ensure the stability of the sensitive resource indicators.

Boundaries of existing ACECs would be expanded as necessary to protect sensitive resources. Additional areas that fully meet the characteristics of wilderness and fall within the existing management scheme for wilderness would be considered for designation as WSAs. The Great Divide Wild Horse Herd Management Area boundaries would be expanded to incorporate the entire planning area, while maintaining existing appropriate management levels. Livestock improvements would be allowed provided sensitive resources, riparian areas, and water quality would be maintained or improved. Recreation project plans and interpretive prospectus would be prepared for specific areas of interest and other recreation activities would be allowed provided no incompatible uses occur and to ensure the health and safety of visitors. Guidelines would also be established for protecting and interpreting cultural resources and Native American concerns. This alternative could result in modifications or amendments to previous land management decisions stated in the GRRMP.

For more information, check out the BLM website at www.jackmorrowhills.org. The public meetings will be held: Tuesday, April 9, 4- 7 p.m., at the Santa Fe Trail Restaurant in Rock Springs; and Wednesday, April 10, 4 7p.m., Inn at Lander, in Lander.

See The Archives for past articles.


Copyright © 2002 Sublette Examiner
All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means must have permission of the Publisher.
Sublette Examiner, PO Box 1539, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3203
examiner@wyoming.com