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BLM Seeks Input on Plan for 650,000 Acres Including Arkansas River

The BLM is taking public input on a management plan for 650,000 acres of Colorado public lands including the Arkansas River. (Wikimedia Commons)
The BLM is taking public input on a management plan for 650,000 acres of Colorado public lands including the Arkansas River. (Wikimedia Commons)
April 4, 2017

DENVER – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is asking for input on how to manage some 650,000 acres of public lands in eastern Colorado, including popular recreation areas.

Josh Kuhn, wilderness and public lands organizer for Conservation Colorado, says he hopes the agency will protect the most pristine acres for future generations, and warns if the landscape is altered people could head someplace else to spend their outdoor-recreation dollars.

"This corridor along the Arkansas River, which contains the longest stretch of gold-medal fishing water in the state, is also one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in the country," he explained. "These lands are really important to the local economies."

Kuhn adds the plan will also cover Badger Creek, the red-rock outcrops in Red Canyon, Echo Canyon, and rare wetland fens known for their biodiversity along Reinecker Ridge in South Park. The agency is kicking off a series of public hearings Tuesday in Denver, Fairplay on Wednesday, Salida on Thursday and next week in several other locations, including Colorado Springs.

Kuhn notes a wide range of stakeholders, including extraction industries, are likely to bend the BLM's ears on how to make use of these public lands over the next 20 to 30 years. He says there's an opportunity for members of the public to help preserve key areas that remain wild and virtually untouched.

"And it's important that the public tells the BLM where they like to hike and fish and hunt, to ensure that the BLM is aware that that specific area is of interest to that user group," he said.

Public comments can also be submitted online through the BLM's website. The deadline for input is May 5.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO