How will the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) complete the planning process for the Indian Creek and Shash Jáa units of Bears Ears National Monument (BENM)?
The BLM intends to prepare one management plan for the Shash Jáa Unit and another plan for the Indian Creek Unit. The BLM and USFS are consulting with Tribes and working with cooperating agencies such as the National Park Service, the local cities of Monticello and Blanding, San Juan County, and the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration and the Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office.
The BLM is committed to streamlining environmental reviews and completing planning within reasonable timeframes, in accordance with Secretarial Order 3355. On Aug. 17, 2018, the BLM published Draft Monument Management Plans (MMPs) and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in the Federal Register. The DEIS analyzes a range of management options and alternatives to address issues raised in public scoping for both units.
To complete the planning process, the BLM and USFS will prepare separate Records of Decision based on a single Final Environmental Impact Statement for the approved MMPs and will adopt management plan decisions for lands within their respective jurisdictions. While the BLM will be preparing new management plans that would replace the existing Monticello RMP for the BLM-administered lands within the BENM, the management plan adopted by the USFS would amend the existing Manti-La Sal Forest Plan for USFS-administered lands within the BENM.
Why will there be two management plans?
Separate management plans will provide greater flexibility in both planning and management of these two units of the Bears Ears National Monument. The Shash Jáa and Indian Creek Units of the Bears Ears National Monument have many similarities, but they each have distinct visitation patterns, landscapes, and management structures. The Indian Creek Unit is solely managed by the BLM. The Shash Jáa Unit is jointlly managed by the BLM and USFS; both agencies are working with Tribes to integrate the special knowledge and expertise of American Indians into unit management.
What are the alternatives identified under the draft EIS?
The Draft EIS analyzes four alternatives:
Alternative A – No Action; management identified in the 2008 Monticello RMP, as modified by the proclamations
Alternative B – Maximizes protection of Monument objects and values by prohibiting or restricting certain uses.
Alternative C – Emphasizes adaptive management to protect the Monument objects and values while providing for recreational access and other multiple uses.
Alternative D - (preferred) – Provides maximum management flexibility and fewest management restrictions while protecting Monument objects and resource values.
How do I provide comments on the draft monument management plans?
Through Nov. 15, 2018, the public is invited to review the draft monument management plans and environmental impact statement, which can be found, along with maps and other supporting documents on the BLM’s ePlanning project page: https://goo.gl/uLrEae. Comments may include other management options for consideration and how they might fit in the range of alternatives, ways to improve the analysis or methods used, gaps in information, or other credible research or information. The BLM is also seeking comments regarding the identification, evaluation and management of cultural resources and historic properties. All comments will be accepted and considered if submitted by email or mail, but specific comments are most effective in shaping how these areas will be managed.
To help BLM ensure your feedback is considered, please include your full name and street address and submit comments by mail or email prior to Nov. 15, 2018.
How do the plans address Secretarial priorities?
The Preferred Alternative seeks to maximize flexibility to accommodate multiple uses within the Monument while ensuring the protection of objects identified in the proclamations. The plan, and specifically the preferred alternative, supports key priorities established by the Secretary of the Department of the Interior:
How is BLM ensuring that the Tribes have input to these plans?
Create a conservation stewardship legacy second only to Teddy Roosevelt. The management plan will provide protection for objects and values outlined in Proclamation 9558 as modified by Proclamation 9681, including important cultural resources and Native American sacred sites.
Sustainably develop our natural resources. The management plans provide for continued woodland harvest, vegetation treatments, and livestock grazing while providing protection for Monument objects.
Restore trust and be a good neighbor. The BLM and USFS have worked closely with the State of Utah, San Juan County and the National Park Service (i.e., Natural Bridges National Monument and Canyonlands National Park) in the development of the Draft MMPs/EIS.
The BLM, and the USFS have engaged, and will continue to seek tribal input, and communication is ongoing throughout the planning process. Early in the process the agencies invited more than 30 American Indian tribes to participate as cooperating agencies and to consult on a government to government basis. The BLM continues to actively seek input from tribes through meetings, phone calls, and letters. The draft Environmental Impact Statement describes consultation and coordination efforts in more detail in chapter 4 of the Draft MMPs and EIS.
What laws protect cultural resources? How is the public involved?
The BLM and USFS manage cultural resources under federal laws and policies such as Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. These laws and policies ensure that cultural resources are managed to protect these valuable resources against impairment, destruction, and inadvertent loss.
The agencies are increasing efficiency by integrating public input in the MMPs received under the National Environmental Policy Act and through section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. As part of this planning effort, the BLM is seeking input on the MMPs and EIS regarding the identification, evaluation and management of cultural resources and historic properties.
What is the status of the Monument Advisory Committee?
The Secretary of the Interior appointed 15 new members to the Bears Ears National Monument Advisory Committee in April 2019. The BLM and USFS are in the process of scheduling an initial meeting. More information can be found on the Utah Monument Advisory Committee webpage.
Why is the BLM conducting land use planning for BENM, particularly with lawsuits pending?
The BLM and USFS are required to prepare management plans for Bears Ears National Monument. The management plans will help the BLM and USFS increase certainty for stakeholders and the public on how people can use and enjoy the National Monument.