Saving Sweetwater County
Residents band together to send substantive comments to BLM
ROCK SPRINGS – Members of the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan Task Force are urging the public to send their comments as soon as possible.
To help the process, Sen. Stacy Jones of Senate District 13, and Sweetwater County Commissioner Taylor Jones hosted a comment writing workshop.
Commissioner Jones is a member of the Rock Springs RMP Task Force, which Gov. Mark Gordon appointed recently. After the task force reviews the public input, it will develop recommendations and send them to the governor and the Bureau of Land Management by Jan. 5.
The workshop took place on Monday, Dec. 18, at The 307 Real Estate Group, located at 426 S. Main St., in downtown Rock Springs.
The deadline for written comments is Jan. 16.
“The BLM-preferred alternative will be devastating to our country, our jobs and our way of life,” said Commissioner Jones.”Please make sure you are sending the BLM informed comments.”
According to Jones, about 40-50 people showed up at the workshop for guidance.
As another member of the Rock Springs RMP Task Force, Ron Wild, a Rock Springs resident, was onsite to educate Sweetwater County residents on how to write substantial comments. He has gained a wealth of knowledge about the BLM by attending several of its meetings. He mentioned there will be more task force meetings regarding the Rock Springs Draft RMP and its preferred alternative, Alternative B.
Wild noted that the upcoming meeting will be closed to the public.
“It’s a meeting that is designed for us to specifically provide the governor with an effective response to the BLM,” said Wild.
According to the task force, Alternative B in the draft RMP appears to conflict with and be in violation of the BLM’s statutorily assigned purpose, including The Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970 and The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.
Other points the task force has made is that the BLM “needs to better clarify or explain why these Special Recreation Management Areas are proposed to be eliminated and what would happen to their future management and priority under Alternative B.”
The task force discovered that the proposed action “would totally eliminate the current SRMA designation for recreation management in eight areas. This includes the following:
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, SRMA
The Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail, SRMA
The Green River, SRMA
Killpecker Sand Dunes, SRMA
The Oregon and Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trails, SRMA
The little Mountain, SRMA
The Red Creek Badlands, SRMA
The Wind River Front, SRMA
Regarding snowmobile travel, the task force pointed out that the BLM needs to provide maps showing the areas where Over-Snow-Vehicles travel is currently allowed (under Alternative A across from the Rock Springs Field Office), as well as how the acreage would change under B. C and D.
The BLM has been accused of using outdated data as well.
For instance, in its estimation recreation impacts section, it used recreation visits that took place from 2011 to 2015, which “does not reflect current recreation trends,” according to the task force.
Task force members request that the draft RMP be updated and not based on data that is more than a decade old.
These are just a few of the issues the task force has been working on.
Rock Springs resident Bert Smith said he has been “fighting with the BLM since the 70s.”
“I turned in over 100 letters,” Smith said with a chuckle, recalling his trip to the Rock Springs BLM office. “I surprised the BLM with a big stack of letters that referenced specific areas.”
He added, “If each letter is different, the BLM must read them. They may not consider what’s written in those letters, but they have to read them.”
Smith noted that the Rock Springs Draft RMP isn’t new to the region.
“This has been happening all over the West,” he said. “Even Maine is fighting the BLM. The only way to solve this problem is the legislature. We have the U.S. Congresswoman and senators on our side. The legislature is fighting for us; in fact, there is a bill to stop the BLM, but it’s not moving.
“We need to get together with other states and fight them in a federal lawsuit.”
“It’s one of the most important things happening to our county,” said Elizabeth Bingham, chairman for the Sweetwater County GOP.
She said residents need to be specific about a land management action in their comments.
Bingham pointed out that “people are so frustrated with the plan,” and when their feelings get in the way, they send comments to the BLM that are not substantive.
The Sweetwater GOP, according to Bingham, would like to organize another comment writing workshop in January before the deadline, and she hopes more people will comment on the RMP.
“Without public comment, you’re not taking Wyomingites into consideration,” said Bingham.