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August 30, 2011 9:15 am

EDITORIAL: Comment by Sept. 7 on BLM plan

Written by Tessa Schweigert

The Bureau of Land Management is working to adopt a Resource Management Plan to determine how millions of acres of public land in the Big Horn Basin will be managed over the next 20 years.

Crafting a plan of this magnitude has required years of work, discussions, meetings, comments and debate. The lengthy process resulted in a 1,800-page draft, but before a final plan is reached, residents still have an opportunity to comment.

“People aren’t commenting on a decision that’s already been made. This is a draft,” said Sarah Beckwith, a BLM spokeswoman, earlier this year.

But time is running out — the comment period closes Wednesday, Sept. 7.

With that deadline fast approaching, it’s important for residents throughout the Big Horn Basin to weigh in on how our public lands are managed.

These are the beloved lands where we recreate, whether it’s hunting, fishing, hiking, watching wild horses or simply enjoying the natural beauty throughout the Big Horn Basin. The new Resource Management Plan will determine how these special areas and wildlife habitats are protected.

These also are the same lands that hold valuable natural resources that are crucial to our local economies. Many residents depend on oil and gas for their livelihoods, but we all benefit from development in Wyoming. Our mineral wealth, particularly our energy wealth, is what enables Wyoming to enjoy good highways, a strong educational system and other benefits while enjoying lower taxes on sales and property. That has been especially visible in recent years when other states have struggled with budget deficits and Wyoming has enjoyed surpluses.

The challenge is finding ways to develop the Basin’s valuable resources without damaging the landscape or disturbing wildlife.

We understand and appreciate the values of both sides — conservation and development. The key is striking a balance between the two.

When all is said and done, we hope the finalized plan successfully reaches that balance to allow for oil and gas development while protecting wildlife habitat and wilderness areas.

The new Resource Management Plan will determine how lands are managed in the Big Horn Basin over the next 15 to 20 years. These are valuable lands belonging to all of us — don’t let your voice go unheard.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link August 31, 2011 11:36 am posted by Cap

    Come on people, there is a petetion out there, find it and put your name on it. Look for it at the American Legion club in Powell. We have copies. The deadline is upon us. one proposal to the BLM by tree huggers is to close ALL roads on BLM land. Think about it. It could happen. It happened in the Missouri River breaks in Montana a few years ago. Theres people that own land there that can't access their land any more. This is proof that it can happen. If it does happen it will be fifteen to twenty years before it can be looked at for change! Do not let your voice go un-heard.

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