Friday, February 15, 2013

BLM Resource Advisory Council Meetings Held In Golden, CO

The Resource Advisory Council (RAC) meetings were held this past Wednesday to Friday in Golden, CO. These meetings are open to the public and discuss current issues of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in its management of our public lands. The RACs are official federal advisory committees that provide insight and recommendations to the Designated Field Officers. Each RAC is comprised of 15 member, 5 members representing the following areas: commercial interests, environmental groups, and elected officials. This year's meeting included a discussion of healthy landscapes, oil and gas development, the National Landscape Conservation System and other issues.

The first day involved a separate meeting for each of the regional RACs (Northwest, Southwest and Front Range) to meet with the Field Officers. These meetings outline and discuss problems specific to the region. Jim Cagney, Northwest Field Officer commented, "It is nice to get advice from the RAC away from the swirl of emotions." He then went on to discuss contentions raised from various use demands for BLM land. These uses are often in conflict witheach other, such as ATV use and use of the land for shooting.

The second day included panel discussions on various topics relevant to all regions. The first panel discussed Maintaining Healthy Landscapes with speakers from the US Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. The next three panels focused on Understanding Oil and Gas Development, Engaging Youth and Veterans in Public Lands and National Landscape Conservation Implementation Strategy. After the panels, the Field Officers and the RAC members broke out into brainstorming groups.

The final day was dedicated to Emilyn Sheffield, Professor of Recreation and Parks Management from California State University, Chico. She highlighted the changing demographics of the United States. She referenced 2010 Census information and Colorado SCORP statistics in her presentation: 55% of Americans are so by choice and 45% of those under the age of five are ethnically diverse. Professor Sheffield encouraged the BLM to change the way in which it interacts with the public and strive to involve a greater variety of stakeholders. She concluded her presentation by saying, "Our current college generation is the best resource of the future. They are an amazing generation and will take us where we've only talked."

It is clear that the BLM faces a variety of issues and decisions regarding demands and uses of its resources. The RAC meetings serve to create new ideas and facilitate a broader understanding of these issues. Other topics of importance were drought management and the implications of dust storms coming into Colorado from Utah. For more information, visit the BLM Resource website.

Angelica Oman
Graduate Program Assistant

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