On behalf of these two divisions, we raise the following issues:
1) Minimum stream flows and reservoir elevation standards:
Sections 2.5.18(a)-(d) and 2.5.22-23 of the Final LRMP identify standards for minimum stream flow and minimum reservoir levels that run the risk of conflicting with state water law and the Memorandum of Understanding between the BLM and DNR regarding management of water resources on BLM managed land in
Colorado (“BLM MOU”).
, BLM-MOU-CO-545. We recommend removing the LRMP provisions that establish standards for minimum stream flow and minimum reservoir levels identified in LRMP Sections 2.5.18(a)-(d) and 2.5.22-
23, deleting the words “or should occur”
from LRMP Section 2
.5.18, and working with the CWCB to address any of BLM’s minimum
stream flow needs. DNR would prefer the BLM change the flow requirements from mandatory
“guidelines,” as that is how they were contained in the Draft LRMP.
2) Suitability Determinations under Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA):
Section 3.23 of the FEIS and Section 3.9 of the LRMP document determinations of suitability under the WSRA that overlook or ignore the extensive collaborative stakeholder efforts, including the River Protection Workgroup, the Dolores River Dialogue and the Lower Dolores Plan Working Group. These have been created to inform the suitability analysis and/or develop alternatives to WSRA suitability determinations. These groups have made substantial and demonstrable progress towards locally
driven consensus solutions for resource protection. We recommend including a “re
provision to initiate a plan amendment to accommodate recommendations from the stakeholder groups.
3) Lease Stipulations for Wildlife Resources:
Appendix H of the Final LRMP/FEIS contains a variety of detailed lease stipulations to protect wildlife resources during federal mineral development stipulations, and includes explicit criteria outlining when exceptions, modifications, and waivers may be granted on USFS lands. These explicit criteria do not apply to BLM lands, and will only
be considered at the discretion of the BLM’s Authorized Officer. BLM’s discretion makes it
difficult for DNR to evaluate the effectiveness of stipulations for protecting wildlife resources during development on BLM lands. We recommend that BLM adopt the explicit exception, waiver and modification criteria identified in Appendix H for USFS lands as a way to provide greater certainty when assessing potential impacts of plan implementation on wildlife, including species like Gunnison Sage Grouse (GuSG), desert bighorn, and mule deer.
4) Gunnison Sage Grouse:
Section 3.3 of the FEIS s
tates that LRMP implementation “
may affect, is likely to adversely affect
GuSG. Currently only 13% of the federal minerals underlying the San Miguel Basin GuSG subpopulation are leased. DNR is concerned that the LRMP proposes leasing the remainder with a No Surface Occupancy stipulation that is subject to exceptions,
modifications and waivers at BLM’s discr
etion. We believe that s
electing the “no lease option”
for new leases in GuSG occupied and unoccupied habitat, or adopting the exceptions, modifications and waivers criteria identified in Appendix H for GuSG stipulations could help achieve a
“not likely to adversely affect” determination for
5) Cortez and Durango Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMA):
The Final LRMP describes
an increase in the size of BLM’s Cortez SRMA by nearly 4,000 acres, and outlines a conditions
-based seasonal winter closure for both the Durango and Cortez SRMAs to protect winter range and winter concentration areas for elk and mule deer herds. With the addition of these lands, the Cortez SRMA covers all BLM lands within mule deer critical winter range north of U.S. Highway 160 between Cortez and Mancos. This is an important wintering area and migratory corridor for mule deer. DNR is concerned that SRMA designation