Garfield County supports greater efficiency in BLM planning process

County asks agency for greater coordination with local government

July 21, 2017

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County has joined a group of local governments supporting potential changes to increase the efficiency of Bureau of Land Management processes pertaining to land use. The county also called on the agency to comply with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), which requires greater coordination with state and local governments.

In late March, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke directed the BLM to streamline both its land-use planning and National Environmental policy Act (NEPA) processes. He called those processes time-consuming, inefficient, and duplicative.

In a letter to Cynthia Moses-Nedd, liaison to state and local government at the BLM, Garfield County noted that the BLM fails “to provide an efficient and productive process to ensure local needs and impacts are properly considered” in planning and implementation. Support to sign the letter was unanimous.

“We would agree and point out that because of this, an unnecessary burden is placed on our county precisely because the federal system is counter-productive,” the county’s letter states.

The letter also asks for improved planning and implementation practices that focus on complying with FLPMA, which would improve the process and coordination with local entities. Section 202(c)(9) of FLPMA, requires the Secretary of the Interior to coordinate planning, management, and inventories, with state and local government, and Native American tribes.

“In our experience, coordination with local governments has not been implemented by the BLM as prescribed in FLPMA,” the county’s letter notes. “If the BLM would implement this very clear directive, a great deal of the planning frustrations could be
resolved resulting in good governance.”

“Secretary Zinke…sent out a memo asking to have planning made more efficient and also to have local and state government more involved in planning for the BLM,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky explained in a meeting on July 17.

He added that under Zinke’s direction, the federal government will look at county, state, and tribal input, and try and make their planning process more consistent with local planning efforts. Jankovsky said this would be a switch from the current “top-down” approach from the federal government.

“We also talk about more decision making by the BLM at the local level, as opposed to Washington D.C.,” he said. “Coordination has never really been embraced by the BLM, and I think it will take a cultural change to get them to include local governments, so we can sit eye to eye and talk to the BLM about planning and decisions that are being made on public lands that are so important to our economy, and to our constituents.”

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