BLM invited county input on monument

I am responding to Casey McClellan’s statements regarding route closures in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. In a June 7 Cortez Journal article, McClellan was quoted as stating, “I’ve been in meetings where the support to keep these areas multiple use and open to motorized vehicles has been overwhelming yet when the decision comes out it is quite the opposite.” McClellan then points to route closures in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument as decisions that he believes have been made with little to no input from local government: “It seemed like the board of county commissioners should have been involved in the decision to close these routes.”

The county commissioners were afforded multiple opportunities to be involved, and they actively participated. A Montezuma and a Dolores County commissioner were appointed members of the Canyons of the Ancients Monument Advisory Committee. Early in the planning process, both boards of county commissioners were invited to be cooperating agencies with the BLM but declined, stating that positions on the Advisory Committee provided sufficient participation in the planning process.

McClellan did not attend any of the public meetings, or any of the 24 Monument Advisory Committee meetings, did not submit comments on the Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP), and did not protest any of the closures in the Proposed RMP (see the administrative record for the Canyons of the Ancients Resource Management Plan). In short, he did not participate in any aspect of the eight-year-long public participation process to decide which routes should stay open — a public process which concluded almost three years ago.

The Monument’s Resource Management Plan was expected to provide balance between concerns of all public interests, not just the county commissioners and advocates for keeping routes open. The lengthy scoping period, public meetings, the Advisory Committee meetings, and comment periods for the Draft and Proposed Plans allowed everyone an opportunity to identify issues and to express their concerns. BLM addressed each and every one of these concerns in the response to comments and in the Director’s Response to Protests, providing reasoning that supported the Record of Decision and the associated route closures in the Canyons of the Ancients RMP.

I urge Mr. McClellan, and any other interested parties, to educate themselves before misstating the facts related to the Canyons of the Ancients route closures. A good start would be to access planning summaries and documents at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/land_use_planning/rmp/canyons_of_the_ancients/documents.html.

For example, the Scoping Report states “Nearly all respondents expressed a desire to have OHV use heavily restricted, if not completely banned from the Monument.” (p. 26). More detail is found in the Proposed RMP and Final Environmental Impact Statement, Appendix U Response to Comments (p. U-63); Approved RMP and Record of Decision, Section 1.8 Public Involvement in the Planning Process (p. 17), Appendix E SW Resource Advisory Council 1999 Report and Monument Advisory Committee Considerations and Guidance for Management Decisions (p. 185), Appendix F Transportation Planning Process (p. 203), and Appendix K Consideration of Cultural Resources in Transportation Plan Development (p. 273); and Director’s Protest Resolution Report at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/planning/planning_overview/protest_resolution/protestreports.html.

The articles states “McClellan said he is rational in his decision making process…and facts, not opinion, emotion or bias, will guide his decisions as a Montezuma County commissioner.” McClellan’s self-evaluation is contradictory to his position on Monument route closures, which seems to be based on opinion, emotion and bias, rather than facts. After failing to participate in the lengthy planning process, Mr. McClellan now uses emotions rather than facts to question the methods used to identify route closures in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

LouAnn Jacobson was BLM Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Manager from 2000 until she retired in October 2010.

Comments » Read and share your thoughts on this story