BLM seeks more public input on Monticello, Richfield plans

The Bureau of Land Management recently released two draft recreation business plans for public comment. One plan covers lands within the Monticello Field Office and proposes changes to fee structures for permits at Cedar Mesa. The other covers camping, additional amenities, and uses on lands within the Richfield Field Office.

A previous public comment period occurred for 30 days from Dec. 8 through Jan. 6, and the BLM incorporated comments received. In order to support increased public engagement, the BLM is providing an additional opportunity for public comment. The second opportunity for public comment will last for 14 days. It closes on Wednesday, June 12.

“These plans are part of the BLM’s effort to improve access to recreation on public lands, respond to increased visitation on public lands across the state, and support a growing tourism economy,” said Abbie Jossie, BLM Utah’s deputy state director for natural resources.

“We appreciate all the input we have received on these business plans so far and wanted to provide another opportunity for public engagement. Public comments with specific concerns or details about visitor use are especially valuable,” said Matt Blocker, BLM Utah Recreation and Visitor Services lead.

The draft plans analyze existing revenues and expenditures and describe the benefits of collecting fees for enhancing recreation opportunities and resource protection. The draft plans include new and improved amenities such as campgrounds in the Richfield Field Office, and specialized hiking areas in the Monticello Field Office. The funds collected through recreation fees are used locally in the field office where they are collected to maintain necessary infrastructure, improve visitor services, and help provide for public safety.

To find out more or comment on the draft plans, visit: www.blm.gov/recreation-business-plans. Before including an address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in any comments, be aware that the entire comment including personal identifying information may be made publicly available at any time. Requests to withhold personal identifying information from public review can be submitted, but the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

The Monticello Field Office is proposing modification to the existing fees for overnight backpacking trips to Cedar Mesa canyons. The plan proposes a $15 fee per person per trip year round. Single day use is proposed as $5 per person per day, with weeklong passes for $10 per person per week. The annual pass would be $40 per vehicle per year, under the proposed plan. Comments can be emailed to [email protected] with the subject line “Cedar Mesa Business Plan;” or mailed to the BLM Monticello Field Office, ATTN: Cedar Mesa Business Plan, 365 North Main P.O. Box 7 Monticello, UT 84535.

The Richfield Field Office is proposing to establish recreation fees at campgrounds within the field office. Comments can be emailed to [email protected] with the subject line “Campground Business Plan;” or mailed to the BLM Richfield Field Office, ATTN: Recreation Business Plan, 150 East 900 North, Richfield, UT 84701.

While 95 percent of BLM-Utah public lands are fee-free, the BLM currently manages 77 developed recreation fee sites and areas across Utah. BLM-Utah has seen an increase in recreation visitors, with over 8.7 million visitors in 2018. In addition, recreation activities on public lands contributed $577 million to Utah’s economy in 2017, according to a press release from the agency.