From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 13 - June 21, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

BLM draws massive response
BLM receives almost 100,000 RMP comments by June 18 deadline
by Joy Ufford and Tiffany Turner

Who says Sublette County people wait until the last minute?

Last week, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Team Leader Kellie Roadifer reported that about 51,000 emails had been sent to her office regarding the draft Pinedale-area Resource Management Plan (RMP).

With the public-comment deadline approaching on June 18, Roadifer had said she expected “a large number” to come in through the next week.

As of Tuesday with the comment period closed, the total emailed comments apparently almost doubled in the last week.

“We received approximately 95,000 emails,” Roadifer said Tuesday. “We also received a large stack of paper letters and a number of comments were entered directly on the Pinedale RMP Web site. I would estimate that the total number of comments is between 95,000 and 100,000.”

Roadifer said it would not be “fair for me to assess the comments as a whole since there are many that I have not yet read.”

“Significantly, I have not yet had a chance to read letters from gas field operators. I have also have not yet read the Governor’s letter,” she said Tuesday. “That said, I have read a number of comments and most of them were concerned with leasing the Upper Green area (north of Cora) for oil and gas drilling. Commenters tended to feel that the No Surface Occupancy restriction included in the Preferred Alternative is insufficient to protect the water, wildlife habitat, open space and other values in the area and would prefer that the area remain unleased.”

By press time, Roadifer had read the governor’s letter and did not find it “harsh,” she said.

“I think the Governor is being very thoughtful,” she said. “While the Preferred Alternative and its intentions were quite clear to us here in the Pinedale Field Office, they apparently are not as clear to readers as we had hoped. We’ve received other comments related to this issue also, asking for more explanation of how the RMP would work on the ground or for clarification on parts of the performance-based management. This is one of the changes that we will make before issuing the Final Environmental Impact Statement. We need to ensure that the document is quite clear on how different activities would be managed.”

The next step in the process is to compile and analyze all comments received by the deadline, according to Roadifer.

“We will respond to the comments and produce a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS),” she said. “For example, we will provide further explanation of things that were not clear in the Draft EIS, correct errors, update data or fill in gaps where data was missing. We also may make changes to the alternatives based on the comments or on other information that we have gathered since producing the Draft.”

The BLM expects to publish the Final EIS in December, she said, and the Final EIS would be followed, after resolution of any protests, by a Record of Decision in June of 2008.”

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