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ePlanning Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area RMP  
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Issues 
Issues in the D-E NCA RMP
This RMP describes broad decisions dealing with proposed management actions, special designations, and allowable uses. These types of decisions are called planning-level decisions, and they are the majority of decisions within this RMP. Implementation-level decisions are tied to a specific location and are used to implement planning-level decisions.

From the Omnibus Act, two overarching questions were initially identified as core planning issues for this RMP:

--What decisions are necessary to conserve and protect the unique and important resources and values of the D-E NCA, including the geological, cultural, archaeological, paleontological, natural, scientific, recreational, wilderness, wildlife, riparian, historical, educational, and scenic resources of the public land?

--What decisions are necessary to conserve and protect the water resources of area streams, based on seasonally available flows, and support aquatic, riparian and terrestrial species and communities?

In addition, many more specific issues were identified through internal and external scoping, and these are described at length in the RMP.

See also Documents & Reports and FAQs on the menu to the left.
 
 
 
PUBLIC SCOPING is an open public comment period that initiates the BLM's planning process.  This stage of the planning process influences the scope or range of issues that the resource management plan will seek to address.  Public input during this phase of planning ensures that the BLM understands all of the issues that the public would like the RMP to address.

The BLM began the public scoping period for the Dominguez-Escalante NCA through the publication of a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register on August 3, 2010.  The public scoping period officially ended on October 1, 2010.
The public scoping period officially ended on October 1, 2010.  In total, the BLM received 66 unique emails, letters and comments during the public scoping period.  Over 2,000 identical form letters were also received, which were treated as one letter.  Also included were letters that had been received during scoping for the Grand Junction Field Office and Uncompahgre Field Office RMP revisions and that specifically addressed the area that became the Dominguez-Escalante NCA.

Individual comments were then identified within each submission. Comments about issues that could be addressed during this planning effort were further categorized, coded, entered into a database, and analyzed. This yielded a total of 264 "planning issue" comments.  See the actual scoping report and the graphs below for more detail on who submitted comments and what these comments were about.

 
Links to Fact Sheets Used during the Public Scoping Process
(NOTE: These are older fact sheets and not the same as the more recent fact sheets found under FAQs on this website)
Recreation Travel Management Visual Resource Management Wilderness Wild and Scenic Rivers

Click here to see the final Dominguez-Escalante NCA public scoping report.

RECREATION PLANNING for the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area included extensive public participation. Public scoping, as well as focus group meetings and surveys conducted by the Natural Resources Land Policy Institute of Mesa State College in 2009 and 2010 revealed the extraordinary value placed on the Dominguez-Escalante NCA by a wide variety of recreationists.The D-E NCA Proposed RMP will determine the NCA's recreation management approach for the next 15-20 years.

During the resource management planning process, the BLM develops goals, in cooperation with its partners and the public, to guide how recreation in the NCA will be managed.  The BLM designates recreation management areas (RMAs) to facilitate various types of activities and experiences.  In areas where no RMA is designated, the BLM does not directly manage recreation, but strives to manage recreation indirectly by meeting other program goals and objectives.

The legislation that created the Dominguez-Escalante NCA, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, included recreation as one of the purposes of the NCA. The recreational guidance developed in the plan is designed to not only recognize the importance of recreation, but also balance recreational use with the other purposes of the NCA stated in its enabling legislation:

 
(b) Purposes.--The purposes of the Conservation Area are to conserve and protect for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations--

(1) the unique and important resources and values of the land, including the geological, cultural, archaeological, paleontological, natural, scientific, recreational, wilderness, wildlife, riparian, historical, educational, and scenic resources of the public land; and

(2) the water resources of area streams, based on seasonally available flows, that are necessary to support aquatic, riparian, and terrestrial species and communities.(Section 2402(b))

 
When developing a range of management options (alternatives) for recreational uses, the BLM takes into account the best available information about all the NCA purposes, including scientific and socioeconomic data as well as public input.

The Proposed RMP/FEIS would designate three Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMA) and four Extensive Recreation Management Areas (ERMAs). See the recreation fact sheet (under Documents & Reports and FAQs on the menu to the left at the top of this page) for details on SRMA and ERMA designations in the Proposed RMP.


Colorado Mesa University recreation studies
The Natural Resources and Land Policy Institute (NRLPI) of Colorado Mesa University (CMU, formerly Mesa State College) conducted surveys of people using the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area for recreation between April 2009 and July 2010 and held six focus group meetings in the Fall of 2010 that centered on recreation and wilderness management in the NCA.

These studies provide valuable information about how people use the Dominguez-Escalante NCA for recreation, information that the BLM can use to plan for and manage recreation in the NCA.

Click here for the compete CMU recreation report.


TRAVEL MANAGEMENT is the process of planning for and managing access and transportation systems on public land. The BLM's travel management program supports all the different resource program goals and objectives by providing administrative access and recreational opportunities while at the same time minimizing impacts to other resources.  For the D-E NCA, travel management is concurrent with the development of the resource management plan.

Note: The travel management fact sheet for the Proposed RMP, which can be found
under Documents & Reports and FAQs on this website, gives a brief overview of the BLM travel management planning process. In response to public comments on the Draft RMP, the BLM has changed route designation criteria to acknowledge that all routes have recreational value. Changes have been made to some individual route designations. The travel fact sheet for the Proposed RMP shows a summary of mileage for individual route designation categories as well as total mileage changes from the Draft RMP to the Proposed RMP.

The complete travel management route comment report, available under Documents & Reports on this website, gives the designation and responses to public comments for the thousands of routes in the D-E NCA.


The KMZ map file "D-E NCA Route Designations," available for download from the "Data" page under Maps in the menu to the left at the top of this page, will allow users to zoom in on a route in Google Earth, then click on the route to see the designation and comments for that route.

What types of travel management decisions are under consideration?

There are two types of travel management decisions considered in the RMP for the D-E NCA:

 
--Area decisions determine which areas are either closed to certain travel uses or limited to travel only on routes designated for the different types of travel. Area decisions will tend to remain unchanged throughout the life of the resource management plan.
 
--Route decisions determine which individual routes within an area are open for different types of travel. Route decisions can change as needed throughout the life of the plan to support different resource objectives.
 
Where do I find travel management decisions in the RMP?

Travel management decisions are found in:

 
--The Alternatives Matrix in Chapter 2 of the Proposed RMP

--Appendix N: Comprehensive Travel and Transportation Management Plan

--The travel management plan route report (see Documents & Reports on the menu to the left at the top of this page)
What are the steps in the travel management decision-making process?
 
1. Public review of the BLM inventory data:  First, we asked the public to review our inventory to ensure its accuracy.  Second, we asked which routes are important to the public and why.

2. Finalizing the route inventory:  Following the public meetings, the BLM reviewed comments, ground truthed routes identified by the public, and finalized the inventory.

3. Development of alternatives:  The BLM developed a range of alternatives for all natural, biological, and cultural resources; resource uses; and special designations for the draft Resource Management Plan.

4. Travel management alternatives:  After the resource alternatives were drafted, the BLM developed travel and transportation alternatives based on the resource objectives in the different alternatives and on public comment.   

5. Draft RMP public comment period: The BLM released its alternatives for travel management concurrent with the release of its draft RMP. The public had 90 days after the release to comment on the plan and travel management.

6. Revisions for the proposed RMP: During this stage, the BLM used the public comments received during step 5 to fine tune the Proposed RMP, and responded to those comments. The complete travel management route comment report, available under Documents & Reports on this website, gives the designation and responses to public comments for the thousands of routes in the D-E NCA.


WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS are part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, which was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
 
Both the Grand Junction and Uncompahgre Field Offices, in their resource management plans, determined that a number of streams within the Dominguez-Escalante NCA (D-E NCA) are “eligible” for wild and scenic river (WSR) consideration. During the resource management planning process for the D-E NCA, the BLM makes decisions regarding the "suitability" of river segments within the D-E NCA. During the planning process for the D-E NCA resource management plan, one segment was found suitable for WSR designation.

The Proposed RMP wild and scenic river fact sheet can be found under Documents & Reports and FAQs on the menu to the left at the top of this page.

 
Important Links Documents and Presentations
Uncompahgre Field Office wild and scenic rivers information Wild and scenic river introductory presentation D-E NCA wild and scenic river eligibility summary
Grand Junction Field Office wild and scenic rivers information D-E NCA in-stream flow rights and legislation Map of eligible segments in the D-E NCA
www.rivers.gov Tools for management of Outstandingly Remarkable Values Background on the wild and scenic river study process


Public input during the wild and scenic river study process

Gunnison Basin Independent Stakeholder Group

Independent stakeholders are considering whether streams within the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area are suitable for inclusion within the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers System.  These discussions are part of a larger process that includes segments in the Gunnison river basin that fall outside of the D-E NCA in the Uncompahgre Field Office (UFO).  

More information can be found on the Gunnison River Basin stakeholder process on the Uncompahgre Field Office's wild and scenic river website.

The last meeting for the Gunnison Basin independent stakeholders group was April 13, 2011 at the Bill Heddles Recreation Center, Delta, CO.

At this last meeting, the group discussed their recommendations regarding Wild & Scenic suitability for each segment in the NCA and other management options to protect each segment's ORVs.

 
Stakeholder Group Meeting Notes Stakeholder Group ORV Worksheets
April 13, 2011 Escalante and Cottonwood Creeks
April 5, 2011 Gunnison River Segments 1 and 3
March 23, 2011 Rose Creek, Big and Little Dominguez Creeks
March 9, 2011  
February 24, 2011  


Environmental coalition

In addition, a separate group consisting of a coalition of environmental organizations released its own recommendations to the BLM.

Click here to see this group's final letter of recommendation

 
Links to Supplementary Information Provided by the Environmental Coalition
Cover letter for the above letter of recommendation Summary of environmental coalition's presentation to the D-E NCA Advisory Council on June 15
Wild and scenic river suitability summary The environmental coalition's original August 17, 2010 letter to the BLM regarding wild and scenic river suitability.


Summary of public Input: Click here to see a summary of the findings of both stakeholder groups

Advisory Council recommendations

On June 15, 2011, the D-E NCA Advisory Council addressed the issue of wild and scenic rivers. The Council focused on river/creek segments where the two stakeholder groups provided different recommendations regarding suitability. These segments were Gunnison River segment 3, Cottonwood Creek, Rose Creek and Escalante Creek segment 1. The Council voted to recommend that BLM find none of the four segments suitable.

Click here to see the meeting minutes

Steps in the wild and scenic river study process

Eligibility
The first step in the WSR study process is to determine which river segments meet eligibility criteria.  To be eligible, a river segment must be free-flowing and possess one or more outstandingly remarkable values (ORV).  ORVs may be scenic, recreational, geological, fish or wildlife related, historic, cultural, botanical, hydrological, or paleontological. ORVs must be of a quality or scarcity that makes them unique, rare, or exemplary within the region.  In addition, rivers must have sufficient water quality to support those values. Both the Uncompahgre and Grand Junction Field Offices completed an eligibility analysis for the rivers and streams in the D-E NCA.  The results of these studies are finalized in the D-E NCA summary report.

Suitability
The BLM is currently evaluating the suitability of eligible segments.  Suitability analysis is designed to be a highly inclusive process, with numerous opportunities for stakeholders and the public to get involved.  This phase will result in a determination of which eligible segments the BLM will recommend to Congress for inclusion in the National WSR System.  This is done as part of the RMP process for the D-E NCA.

During the suitability phase, the BLM is asking for stakeholder help to analyze various management prescriptions and positive and negative impacts of various designations for each segment.   Together we are working to identify how stream-related values can best be protected and enhanced and to consider potential impacts to other resources such as water supply.  As part of the process, the BLM is considering alternatives to WSR designation for managing water-related values.

The suitability phase addresses several management considerations:
Should the river’s free-flowing character, water quality, and ORVs be protected, or are one or more other uses important enough to warrant doing otherwise?

 
--Is protection of identified ORVs within management control?  
--Will historical or existing rights be adversely affected?
--Will the river’s free-flowing character, water quality, and ORVs be protected through designation? Is it the best method for protecting the river corridor? The benefits and impacts of WSR designation must be evaluated, and alternative protection methods must be considered.
--Is there a demonstrated commitment to protect the river by any non-federal entities who may be partially responsible for implementing protective management?

Designation
The BLM does not designate segments as Wild or Scenic Rivers. The BLM determined in the Proposed RMP that one segment within the D-E NCA is suitable for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System. The Final RMP/FEIS and Record of Decision (scheduled for release in 2016) will not designate this suitable segment. Designation of Wild and Scenic Rivers is a decision that is almost always made by Congress. On very rare occasions, this decision can be made by the Secretary of the Interior with the approval of the appropriate state's governor.