BLM Brainstorms With Local Officials
by Art Goodtimes
Dec 15, 2008 | 797 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print

BLM … At the end of October a group of BLM officials came and spoke with local governments in San Miguel County, spending a good deal of time leading us through a scoping exercise in preparation for the development of a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Uncompahgre Field Office in Montrose. Facilitated, the meeting tried to flesh out the future goals for the county and the two main towns, as well as our separate issues and concerns for BLM land in our boundaries … It used to be that federal agencies saved most of their public input mojo for the final phase of planning documents, holding open houses and hearings for whatever finished document they themselves had developed. But under the deregulatory “local control” policies of Republicans (and even some Democrats), the Feds have begun to bring local stakeholders into the mix early in the scoping process, even before initial drafts – the new thinking being that better input on the front end can lead to more acceptable outcomes at the back end. And it certainly felt that way with this meeting. RMPs guide the management of BLM lands and are important documents that are used for most local management decisions. The session facilitator, Bill Bottomly, led for the board of county commissioners and staff turned up a lot of valuable input on and concern for BLM lands … As I noted to Bottomly subsequent to the meeting, there were four ideas in particular that I was hoping we would continue to explore … 1. Land trades with local governments for essential community services, such as workforce housing and transportation … 2. Better coordination on oil and gas leasing (where the county team has had to protest leases in endangered species habitat and municipal watersheds which we thought the BLM had agreed to avoid) … 3. Banking some known energy resource areas – coal, gas, uranium – as National Energy Reserves, conserving these known assets for future use (the next seven generations) … 4. Better environmental protection for special areas, like the San Miguel Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and the wild and scenic segment of the San Miguel River … As I wrote Cynthia Moses-Nedd, BLM’s liaison with the National Association of Counties (NACo) in D.C., I would like to commend Barb Sharrow, Dave Kaufman and the entire Uncompahgre Field Office staff for offering the county and the two big towns a very collaborative example of involving local governments in decision-making – by holding an initial, pre-RMP scoping meeting for three different government entities in our small county … If only we could devolve more of the federal decision-making authorities down from the command and control centers of the Dept. of Interior hierarchy and out to the local BLM field offices, the better run the agency could be.

CCI … There was a sadness to attending my 12th winter conference in Colorado Springs for Colorado Counties, Inc. – our nonprofit lobbying arm in Denver, convener of regional and state commissioner gatherings, conferences, trainings, informational, with web and liaison assistance … I had to say goodbye to Dorothea Farris both as a commissioner (termed out after three terms in Aspen’s Pitkin County) and as CCI’s board chair – easily the dean of the progressive caucus of county commissioners in this state – as well as my NACo mentor and ally on NACo’s Public Lands Steering Committee. This was the group, under the leadership of Commissioner Jake Klein of Otero County (and which I’ve belonged to for the past seven years), that Sen. Ken Salazar credited at a noon keynote speech as convincing him to maneuver full funding for PILT (Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes) for the next four years and to reauthorize payments for the Secure Rural Schools Act and slowly wean forest counties in the West off of paying for their schools with federal timber sale monies, which have drastically declined in recent years. Participation in NACo lobbying had paid off to the tune of maybe two million dollars in revenue for San Miguel County alone over the next four years … Bill Patterson of Montrose was gone – done in by the very big money that failed to get him on an earlier recall. Melanie Worley of Douglas County was leaving after many years – such a nice woman. Linda Matthews of tiny neighboring Hinsdale County had lost in her primary, so she came to say last goodbyes … Jake Klein too had thrown in the towel – always a colorful character and a moderate blue Dem for the last dozen years in a sea of red Repubs who used to run CCI. He always treated me fairly and respected my ideas, even when we didn’t agree. But it had been over 20 years in office for him, and he wanted to enjoy his last years with his wife and family.

IRIS IN BORNEO #3 … “After my time at Uncle Tan's, I boarded an un-air-conditioned minibus to the coastal town of Semporna. During the ride I was hypnotized by the dizzying number of palm trees lined up in perfectly spaced rows outside my window. A young Malay couple sat down next to me on the second stretch of the trip, as we changed direction and my seat became the unfortunate seat near the open window basking in the hot sun. The woman who sat next to me in her baju kurung kept her distance on the crowded bus by allowing a gap of about five inches between us on the seat. I interpreted this as her dislike of me and/or my assumed stench (remember I had been out in the wild for three days and had only bathed in sunscreen and mosquito repellent in that time). But, to my surprise, she noticed my discomfort due to the sun and pulled out an MTV T-shirt from her bag and offered it to me to protect me from the sun. I was so amazed by her kindness, my face was plastered with a smile the rest of our trip. And at the conclusion of our ride, they asked me to take a picture, which thrilled me ’cause I'd secretly wanted a picture as well. I continued to find the Malay people that I met very kind, curious about me and friendly. They love American culture, and there are signs of it all over.”

© 2008 Art Goodtimes



The mushrooms are growing

The music is playing

The vegetables are dancing

The artichokes are singing

The peppers are glowing

It’s Mother Nature’s feast

Let’s eat!

Gorio Oshá

from With Out Doors

Telluride Mountain School Literary and Arts Journal (2008)

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