Five different land use plans (LUP) now in place in the south-central part of Utah that cover about 554,000 acres of public land surface estate administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) may be exchanged for one all-encompassing resource management plan (RMP). Under BLM's preferred alternative, about 48% of the publicly administered land in the Kanab, UT, region would be open for oil and natural gas leasing.

The LUPs now used by the BLM include the Escalante Management Framework Plan (MFP), Paria MFP, Vermilion MFP, Zion MFP and the Cedar-Beaver-Garfield-Antimony RMP. The new plan, to be called the Kanab RMP, and its accompanying environmental impact statement, would provide the management direction for about 2.8 million total acres of public lands within the boundaries of the Kanab area, which includes the half a million acres of land that BLM administers.

The planning area in Utah is bordered by Piute and Wayne counties on the north, Washington County and Zion National Park on the west, Arizona on the south (including a boundary with the Kaibab-Paiute Tribe Reservation), and Capitol Reef National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the east. It is situated within the Colorado Plateau and Wasatch and Uinta mountains.

BLM determined the new RMP was warranted because of the "considerable changes" have occurred within the planning area, resulting in a need for new or additional program direction in existing plans in some areas. Changes in policy include the development of standards for rangeland health, new special status species listings, implementation of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 2000 (EPCA), and policies addressing off-highway vehicle (OHV) use. Changes in resource use levels and patterns also "have created areas of conflict between resource protection and resource uses."

The agency has four alternative RMPs on the drawing board:

Under BLM's preferred Alternative B, there would be continued access and development of resources with stipulations and mitigation to protect natural and cultural resources. Alternative B would do the following:

Comments on the plan will be accepted for about the next three months (90 days following publication in the Federal Register), and they may be submitted electronically to UT_Kanab_Comments@blm.gov or by mail to Kanab Field Office RMP Comments, BLM, Kanab Field Office, 318 E. 100 N, Kanab, UT 84741.

©Copyright 2007 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.