BLM releases Bears Ears proposed management plans

The Indian Creek area of Bears Ears National Monument. The Bureau of Land Management seeks public comment on proposed management plans for both Indian Creek and Shash Jáa. Photo courtesy of the BLM

The Bureau of Land Management on July 26 announced the availability of the proposed Monument Management Plans and final Environmental Impact Statement for the Indian Creek and Shash Jáa units of the Bears Ears National Monument, according to a statement from the BLM.

The BLM published the notice of availability in the Federal Register and posted the final documents on the BLM ePlanning website at: goo.gl/uLrEae. After more than six months of public outreach, the proposed plans provide for uses within the national monument planning area, including recreational uses, while protecting significant cultural resources and other objects, according to the agency.

“These plans will provide a blueprint to protect the awe-inspiring natural and cultural resources that make this monument nationally significant, while enhancing recreational opportunities and ensuring access to traditional uses,” said Utah State Director Ed Roberson.

On Jan. 16, 2018, the BLM initiated planning to prepare MMPs for the Bears Ears National Monument, which is jointly managed with the Manti-La Sal National Forest. The BLM and the U.S. Forest Service worked with cooperating agencies to develop and draft the management plans and EIS reflecting input from many stakeholders and the public. The BLM and USFS provided extensive opportunities for public engagement including six public meetings, nearly six months of public scoping and comment, government-to-government tribal consultation and coordination, working with cooperating agencies and stakeholders, and the citizen-based Monument Advisory Committee, according to the BLM.

The proposed MMPs and final EIS differs from the draft by including a new alternative (Alternative E) that reflects comments from cooperating agencies, tribes, stakeholders, the public, and the Bears Ears National Monument Advisory Committee. Changes are clearly indicated to make it easier to compare the draft MMPs/EIS and the proposed MMPs/final EIS, according to the BLM.

“We appreciate everyone who took the time to provide meaningful comments, and our cooperating agency partners who have helped us incorporate the suggestions from local communities, stakeholders, the monument advisory committee, tribes, and the public into the plans,” said Canyon Country District Manager Lance Porter.

The proposed MMPs and final EIS, maps, and supporting information are available online at https://goo.gl/uLrEae. The BLM will finalize the MMPs through signing and issuing a Record of Decision, according to the BLM.

Consistent with Department of the Interior and BLM priorities for public safety and improving access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting (referred to as “target shooting” in the MMPs), most of the monument remains open to these activities. However, to further advance public safety and protect important cultural resources, the proposed MMPs include provisions to not allow target shooting at specific locations, including campgrounds, developed recreation sites, petroglyphs, and structural cultural resource sites such as cliff dwellings, on BLM-administered lands within the Monument. These provisions do not apply to legal hunting activities, according to the BLM.

In accordance with the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, the BLM is announcing the opening of a 60-day public comment period on this proposed target-shooting closure. The public will have 60 days from the date of the notice of availability for the proposed MMPs and final EIS to review and provide comments specific to the proposed target-shooting closure at campgrounds, developed recreation sites, petroglyph sites, and structural cultural sites.

These comments on target shooting may be submitted the following ways:

  • Email: [email protected].
  • Mail: BLM, Canyon Country District Office, 82 East Dogwood, Moab, UT 84532, Attn: Lance Porter.
  • Publication of the proposed MMPs and final EIS in the Federal Register initiates a 60-day review by Gov. Gary Herbert for consistency with state and local plans, policies and programs, and a 30-day protest period, which will be open through Aug. 26. Instructions for filing a protest with the director of the BLM can be found online at: www.blm.gov/filing-a-plan-protest and at 43 CFR 1610.5-2.

For further information concerning the land use planning process or recreational target shooting within the Bears Ears National Monument, contact Porter, district manager, at 435-259-2100.