The latest iteration of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) resource management plan (RMP) for Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument adds some limitations to mineral development activities.
The latest changes to BLM’s management plan marks the next step in its pursuit of a resolution to the clash between environmental groups and the mineral development industry over recent changes to the boundaries of monuments in Utah.
“These plans are the result of deliberate and collaborative input from cooperating agency partners, local communities, stakeholders, the Utah Resource Advisory Council, tribes and the American public,” said BLM’s Harry Barber, acting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument manager.
The catalyst for the standoff was the Trump administration’s December 2017 proclamations, which reduced the size of Bears Ears by 83% to 228,784 acres and for trimming the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 46% to about one million acres.
Since then, BLM auctioned off land in the contested areas, environmental groups sued the agency and most recently BLM agreed to suspend oil and gas lease sales to reconsider the environmental review and examine possible impacts on climate change.
The BLM’s latest issued plan includes changes under Alternative E, which now includes five Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMA), as well as two Extensive Recreation Management Areas and nine Recreation Management Zones. The previous version designated no SRMAs, and it was the least restrictive to energy and mineral development in the Kanab-Escalante Planning Area.
Neither the previous or current plan designates Areas of Critical Environmental Concern.
The proposal issued Aug. 23 is now undergoing a two-month review.