County Comments on the Manti-La Sal National Forests Draft Land Management Plan and EIS
Mesa County submitted a letter to the U.S. Forest Service this week with comments on the Manti-La Sal National Forests Draft Land Management Plan and EIS.
The US Forest Service Manti-La Sal National Forest (MLSNF) is proposing revisions to its existing 1986 Land and Resource Management Plan. There are 2,246 acres of the MLSNF in Mesa County, located in the far southwestern corner of the county.
The letter states:
“The Mesa County Board of County Commissioners ("Mesa County") expresses its gratitude for the opportunity to provide comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement ("DEIS") and Revised Land Management Plan ("LMP") collectively referred to as "DEIS/LMP" concerning the Manti-La Sal National Forests ("MLSNF").
Mesa County has consistently championed the responsible stewardship of our public lands. Our foremost commitment is to ensure the sustained accessibility of these lands for a diverse array of purposes that enhance the lives of our constituents, conserve eco systems, and sustain a diversified economy for Mesa County. We firmly believe that empowering local land managers to craft flexible, community-tailored solutions stands as the best approach to effectively oversee our public lands. Mesa County offers the following questions, concerns, and suggestions for the DEIS/LMP.
Wildlife Management Areas
While we recognize the importance of safeguarding habitat for big game species, we question whether or not layered management enhances their protection. In the event that the MLSNF chooses to proceed with Big Game Management Areas, we would like to request that a well-defined policy is developed that guarantees the timely update of boundary areas, particularly in the identification of lands utilized by big game. Should use by big game change in summer, winter, or calving areas, or migration corridors, there should be an established mechanism enabling the MLSNF to adjust the boundaries of these areas without necessitating a comprehensive plan amendment. The maintenance of precise and up-to-date maps is essential to empower the agency and forest users in making informed decisions.
Proposed Wilderness Designation for Roc Creek area
The Roc Creek area is proposed for designation as Recommended Wilderness in the Preferred Alternative B of the DEIS/LMP. While only 2,246 acres are in Mesa County, we are strongly opposed to another layer of management, particularly the most restrictive form of management, being added to this area of Mesa County.
Grazing Should Not Be Impacted
There is a grazing lease within the defined polygon of the proposed Roc Creek Wilderness area. The grazing allotment and its associated lease should remain unaffected by the introduction of the Wilderness Area proposal. It is imperative that the lessee retains the uninterrupted ability to conduct operations in accordance with the lease terms. This includes the use of vehicles and equipment for the transportation of livestock and supplies, the construction and upkeep of fencing, and the maintenance of essential water infrastructure, among other activities. We are opposed to the allotment being retired upon expiration of the lease term.
In summary, Mesa County acknowledges the evolving landscape and diverse uses of our forests. We value the commitment to a balanced approach that carefully weighs the demands for both management and conservation while remaining true to the principle of multiple-use mandate.”