Chaco area safe while BLM does inventory

San Juan Basin Badlands - Ceja Pelon 4

By Norma McCallan, Chapter Public Lands Chair

The BLM’s Farmington District has worked out an ambitious plan to inventory it's landscape and use that information for planning in the upcoming public process to amend its dated 2003 Resource Management Plan (RMP).

We knew that they were planning a district-wide inventory for Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (as the BLM now requires for major planning efforts), and they have now added a Travel Inventory, which is soon to be contracted out. This will identify all the maintained roads in the area, a key part of identifying Lands with Wilderness Characteristics, since a key criteria is that there be at least 5,000 roadless acres.

There will likely be a Notice of Intent to plan this Inventory for Travel in late January. Once completed, the Wilderness Characteristics inventory will begin. The whole process of amending this RMP is expected to take about 36 months.

This is good for the environmental community, since it will provide us more time to investigate those special areas we want to protect for their wildlife, their unique badlands and their riparian values.

Paging through the 2003 management plan I found, to my surprise, numerous listings of archeological, paleontological, geological, endangered species, and wildlife sites we will want to see protected to the fullest.

We had a very large and enthusiastic attendance at the two Badlands tours we organized this fall, despite the driving hours. See the Outings section for the next proposed field trip on March 8.

A footnote to the Chaco article in the last edition is that the Farmington BLM’s part in the quarterly state listing of proposed oil and gas leases will not occur again until the October 2014 lease sale, so the deferments for those 34 of 38 parcels near Chaco Canyon while a wilderness characteristics inventory is conducted, will remain deferred till then.

If you are interested in getting involved in this opportunity to protect more of our special Four Corners landscapes, including world-renowned Chaco Canyon, please let me know!
Norma McCallan, nmccallan@mindspring.com, 505-471-0005