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Elected officials ask the BLM to withdraw draft plan for the Rock Springs area

A cyclist sits by her bike on a sunny day on top of a mountain.
Austin Mansell
Near the Pine Mountain area of the Red Desert.

Many elected officials in Wyoming are upset at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and are asking the agency to withdraw a proposed resource management plan for 3.6 million federal acres near Rock Springs.

There are four alternative plans drafted for the land that includes the Red Desert – everything from managing things the same as they are now, to allowing lots of development. The BLM is recommending ‘Alternative B’ – a conservation approach with a focus on wildlife and habitat and severe restrictions to energy development. Many elected officials are saying it could economically hurt southwest Wyoming, an area that’s long depended on mining and natural gas.

Senator John Kolb (R-Rock Springs) spoke at a recent Sweetwater Board of County Commissioners meeting. Kolb said if the plan is finalized as-is, the state is prepared to sue the BLM.

“We intend to win,” he said. “We intend to fund this thing with every monies that are needed to defend ourselves.”

Kolb said $10 million might be used from the state’s coal litigation fund. In a separate legislature meeting of the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee, Nolan Rap spoke on behalf of the Governor’s office. After being questioned about the state preparing to sue the BLM, he said, “Yes, those conversations have begun.”

Governor Mark Gordon, Secretary of State Chuck Gray and the City of Rock Springs, among others, have also asked the BLM to withdraw the plan.

The BLM has emphasized that this is a draft plan. The final plan doesn’t have to be their preferred ‘Alternative B’ and can be a combination of the four different plans. The agency also said the final plan will reflect public comment, which closes November 16th. Gordon has also asked the agency to extend the public comment period.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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