Protesters Gather Outside of BLM Office
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Community members who are against the proposed Resource Management Plan (RMP) put together by the Bureau of Land Management say that it would close more than 2,100 of the nearly 3,300 miles of public access, while BLM officials say there is a lot of misinformation out there. On Friday, the BLM opened up their parking lot for those who were looking to protest the plan. More than 100 protesters planted themselves in front of the BLM Grand Junction field office to tell officials just how they feel about the RMP. "By limited the access, they're limiting our freedom and so my biggest concern is curtailing freedom at all, in any way," said David Justice, a protester at the event. "The public has a right to get to public lands and the disabled have a right to do that as well," said Don Davidson, another protester. The RMP is something the BLM has to implement every 20 years. "[The plan] takes a look at everything from oil and gas management to recreation to grazing and gives us that vision and guidance to make good day to day decisions," said Katie Stevens, the Grand Junction Field Manager with the BLM. It's the battle over which roads and trails can be used for what, that had the crowd fired up on Friday. "In the RAP, [the roads/trails] are either closed or they're being changed to administrative routes, and administrative routes mean they're not open to the general public, so that's closed to us," said Brandon Siegfried, a public land access advocate who coordinated the protest. "Our goal is not to close access, we still want folks to be able to get where they want to go, but we want them to do that on a road and trail system that works," said Stevens. The BLM has extended the deadline for public input until June 24, they say if community members take the time to give their comments, the BLM will take them into consideration. "If they like one piece or another, we do have the opportunity to kind of mix and match what we've come up with so far and come up with a plan that's going to work," said Stevens. The next public open house being held by the BLM is April 6 at Two Rivers Convention Center, that meeting will start at 4:00 p.m. and run until 6:00 p.m.