The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Friday issued a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the revised Rawlins, WY, Resource Management Plan (RMP), which outlines possible actions and their corresponding impacts for the millions of acres of gas-rich land in southern Wyoming. A 30-day protest period ends Feb. 3.
The proposed Rawlins RMP, which would replace the current Great Divide RMP, would provide future direction to manage 3.5 million acres of BLM-administered public land and 4.5 million acres of BLM-administered federal mineral estate in Albany, Carbon, Laramie and Sweetwater counties, WY.
According to the BLM’s federal office in Rawlins, management actions outlined in the FEIS include opportunities for energy and minerals development, as well as protection for wildlife, cultural properties and special management areas. The proposed plan also suggests maintenance practices for adequate recreation use of the land area.
The BLM offers four alternative RMPs in its FEIS:
The No Action Alternative includes direction provided by the Great Divide RMP, which originally was issued in November 1990, as well as new direction and policy that have been developed since completion of the Great Divide RMP and resulting amendments to the plan. The three action alternatives were developed to present a range of management options.
BLM’s proposed plan, Alternative 4, “provides a balance for opportunities to use and develop resources, and ensure environmental conservation,” according to the agency. “The proposed plan provides the guidance that emphasizes neither resource use nor resource protection. This balanced alternative best meets the issues and concerns raised during scoping.”
In its “Reasonably Foreseeable Development” for oil and gas projects over a 20-year planning period from 2001 to 2020, BLM is projecting that 8,822 wells would be drilled on about 57,545 total acres. Overall, the BLM estimates that there would be about 5,100 private wells on about 35,400 acres, and 3,700 federal wells on about 22,400 federal acres.
During the protest period, those who participated in the original RMP planning process may protest the proposed RMP and associated land use planning decisions. According to BLM, those who participated in the planning process may protest on the issues they submitted during the planning process before the publication of the proposed RMP, but “new issues may not be raised as part of the protest process.”
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