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BLM Updates Draft Management Rules for Castle Valley Area

Sun Advocate reporter

The United States Bureau of Land Management announced in mid-June that the federal agency would accept comments regarding supplemental information and analysis in statements in draft form for the Carbon and Emery areas.

When the BLM released its draft resource management plan and draft environmental impact statement in July 2004, the four areas were inadvertently omitted from the plans.

The supplemental information relates to four potential areas of critical environmental concern. The first is the Desolation Canyon ACEC, which impacts 159,246 acres.

Three other ACECs are also impacted by the supplemental information: the Mussentuchit Badlands ACEC, impacting 58,398 acres; the Lower Muddy Creek ACEC, impacting 29,854 areas and the White-Tailed Prairie Dog ACEC, impacting 9,204 acres.

The Desolation Canyon ACEC is located west of the Green River between Nine Mile Canyon and Range Creek. The Mussentuchit Badlands ACEC is located south of Interstate 70, near the junction of the interstate with Utah Highway 10 in Emery County, near the Sevier line.

The Lower Muddy Creek nomination is located south of Goblin Valley and Temple Mountain, west of Utah Highway 24.

The Prairie Dog nomination is in the San Rafael Swell region east of Castle Dale.

The BLM reviewed the Desolation Canyon and Mussentuchit Badlands nominations in April 2004.

Review of the White-Tailed Prairie Dog nomination was made in March 2005 and review of the Lower Muddy Creek nomination was made in October 2004 with the coordinated effort of the Richfield field office.

During the initial public scoping of the region, the four areas were nominated as potential ACECs.

After review, the BLM has determined that they meet the criteria to be considered for further review.

"The BLM regrets this oversight," wrote Henri Bisson, acting director for the Price field office. "Further, information was provided during the public comment period for the DRMP/DEIS which further substantiates the need to consider these potential ACECs."

The plans will establish guidelines relating to the objectives, policies, management actions and other decisions BLM officials at the Price field office. The BLM has stated that the proposed plan is to be comprehensive in nature. In creating the plan, the bureau hopes to address a gamut of issues, among them, air quality, cultural resources, soil and water resources, vegetation, lands and realty management, wildlife habitat and fisheries management, mineral and mining resources, recreation and OHV use, visual resource management, hazardous materials, special management designations and other related issues.

Since the release of the draft plan in 2004, the bureau has received additional comments regarding the potential ACECs and released the supplemental information in an effort to correct the oversight.

Included in the supplemental information, the BLM has released analysis of the potential ACECs and included the regions in alternative C of the draft plan. The four impacted areas were not considered in any of the alternatives previously released. Documents relating to the draft planning document now address five alternative management decisions and analyzes the impact of each of them.

The BLM has opened a 90-day public comment period, ending Sept. 8, 2006. Information regarding the draft plan can be obtained on the BLM website, or by contacting the BLM field office, Bureau of Land Management - Price Field Office, Attn: Floyd Johnson - Draft RMP Supplement, 125 South 600 West, Price, UT 84501 or by calling (435) 636-3600.

All comments will be made available for public review after processing by the BLM. The final plan is scheduled to be released in November. Once approved, the plan will replace the Price River Resource Area Management Framework Plan and the San Rafael Resource Management Plan.

The draft plans affect approximately 2.5 million acres of BLM land in the Castle Valley and the surrounding areas. The total areas affected include federal, state and privately owned lands. The final RMP will also include an updated EIS and analysis which relates to the final version of the plan.

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