Join Us in Commenting
At this critical time for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, we need your help. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is accepting public comments on the Draft Resource Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement (RMP/EIS) for the Monument through Thursday, November 9th. This is the last chance for the public to make comments about the direction of Monument management for years or decades to come.
We invite you to join us in commenting to ensure that the final plan will protect vital scientific, cultural, and historic resources throughout the Monument. This is our opportunity to support a plan that builds a strong foundation for co-stewardship with Native American Tribes and a science-based approach to management.
The View from 30,000 feet.
The Draft RMP published in August of 2023 contains over 600 pages of detailed information describing alternative management directions for GSENM. The BLM has chosen Alternative C in this RMP as the agency’s Preferred Alternative. And it’s a good choice, focused on conservation.
This choice is subject to revision, based on input from the public as well as government and Tribal entities. The final draft is expected in spring of 2024, with formal adoption and record of decision by fall of 2024. If a new RMP is not adopted, the 2020 RMP, with stripped back protections for a Monument severely reduced during the Trump Administration, will remain the controlling management authority at GSENM.
And so, adopting a new RMP is imperative.
Where to Start.
The BLM deserves our gratitude for its preparation of a draft RMP that prioritizes the protection of resources, objects, and values that the Monument was established to protect and conserve. The realization of these protections, however, will depend on final adoption and implementation of the plan. We commend the BLM on a tremendous effort to prepare the RMP, and for advances made in the plan toward necessary, forward-looking management and engagement with Tribal nations to establish co-stewardship.
Grand Staircase Escalante Partners supports the preferred Alternative C in the draft plan with some improvements. Please consider making your own unique comments, keeping in mind the comment guidance provided below.
1. Tribal Interests
- Ensure that GSENM is managed in a manner that seeks to protect the treaty, religious, subsistence, and cultural interests of federally recognized Tribes by consulting with Tribes and providing additional details about how the plan will a) carry out Joint Secretarial Order 3403: Fulfilling the Trust Responsibility to Indian Tribes in the Stewardship of Federal Lands and Waters ,and b) implement the directions provided in the DOI Permanent Instruction Memorandum No. 2022-011.
- Conduct consultation to determine which resources are culturally significant to each Tribe and incorporate management directions to ensure protections of these resources into all land use planning and implementation-level decision-making.
- Incorporate Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) into land management plans and policies as desired and directed by the Tribes.
2. Land Health, Restoration and Monitoring
- Conduct regular land health assessments throughout the Monument to evaluate the status of resources and better direct actions for their conservation.
- Support restoration projects that create landscape resilience to climate change, including treatment of invasive species, restoration of native vegetation with the use of native seeds, linking of wildlife habitat corridors, and erosion mitigation.
- Retain and protect old growth trees to support carbon sequestration and provide wildlife habitat for at-risk species such as the Mexican spotted owl, southwestern willow flycatcher, and pinyon jay.
- Conduct scientific studies to better understand how a warming climate is affecting the ecology of GSENM, and the ways that those impacts might be mitigated.
- Commit to management policies focused on climate adaptation and resilience.
3. Exercise of Discretion
- The draft RMP places discretion for decision-making regarding specific actions with agency officials. Granting an effective degree of discretion to decision makers facing a complex and dynamic environment makes good sense. However, each exercise of discretion must be supported by a direct reference, available to the public, explaining how the decision actually supports the conservation goals at GSENM.
How to Make Comments.
Please click this link to access the BLM’s online comment page. Look for the green “Participate Now” on the left sidebar. Below are some tips for commenting.
Tips for making substantive comments:
- Raise relevant issues the BLM has not identified and explain why they are relevant (with data, rationale, or justification)
- Provide information to support further development of alternative(s)
- Provide information about impacts from specific recommended actions
Comments not considered substantive:
- Comments without data, rationale, or justification
- Comments in favor of or against an action without reason
- General disagreement with BLM policy
- Comments that do not pertain to GSENM
Participating in the process by submitting a comment will demonstrate to the BLM that there is a large and growing community of citizens with relevant knowledge and expertise who are deeply interested in the future of GSENM. For more information about the RMP process, timeline, and relevant documents, please visit our web page dedicated to the new RMP.
Thank you for your commitment to this vast, remote, and deeply revered Monument. Together, we will honor the past and safeguard its future.