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"How Can You Get Involved in Public Land Management and Advocacy?"

Updated: Mar 4

By: Christine Canaly, SLVEC Director

Date: March 4, 2024


A. Great Sand Dunes seeking public input about transportation system within the Park

The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public feedback on initial proposed ideas for Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve’s Transportation and Transit Planning effort. Staff will share the park’s transportation improvement concept at public meetings and gather public feedback on the initial concept to address challenges presented by increased and changing visitor use patterns. 


“We are working through a planning effort to focus on relieving congestion and improving opportunities for the public to have a more enjoyable and safe experience when they visit the park,” said Park Superintendent Andrea Compton. “We want to hear from our community, partners, and stakeholders so we can improve transportation and create solutions that work well for our visitors.”


Great Sand Dunes invites the public to learn about and provide input on the Transportation and Transit Planning effort by way of in- person meetings. A 30-day public comment period will also begin Feb. 28.  

   

 In-Person Public Meeting 1: Alamosa

Wednesday, March 13, 6-8 p.m.  

Rio Grande Water Conservation District, 8805 Independence Way, Alamosa.

  

  In-Person Public Meeting 2: Crestone

 Thursday, March 14, 6-8 p.m.   

National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Baca National Wildlife Refuge office, 69812 County Road T., Crestone.

The Baca NWR is located approximately 10.5 miles east of Highway 17 on the south side of County Road T. The gate at the end of the refuge driveway is between two large timbers, with “Luis Maria Baca Grant” in cast iron lettering above it. 


Public Comment 

Beginning Feb. 28, the public can also provide formal comments. The preferred method for submitting comments is online. Comments may also be mailed or hand-delivered to: Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center, Attn: Transportation and Transit Planning, 11999 State Highway 150, Mosca, CO 81146. The deadline to submit comments is March 29. 


At the conclusion of the 30-day public comment period, the NPS will analyze and consider all comments received. A draft environmental assessment will likely be released for public review fall 2024. A final decision is expected in early 2025.


B. Winter Travel Management Planning set to begin for Rio Grande National Forest

The Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF) Winter Travel Management Plan settlement agreement, with SLVEC and other organizations, did bring the RGNF Management Planning Revision process forward. RGNF had public meetings in November 2023, where Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) maps were reviewed, compiled by the RGNF, with support from the Forest Service regional office. The public was given an opportunity to review the maps and provide feedback. The snow mobile community showed up and provided a large presence in two of the three meetings that were held in the SLV. The official NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Winter Travel Management process will begin at the end of April (2024) and be published in the federal register.  Please consider participation, travel management planning is essential for recreation planning, and overall management, to promote the protection of wildlife habitat, on our forest. Stay Tuned.


C. The Western Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Solar Plan

So much is happening now with the transition to Renewable Energy. The Bureau of Land Management, (BLM) has recently released the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), which could potentially impact 22 million acres of BLM lands across the west. This current process is an update to its 2012 Western Solar Plan, which identified three areas within the San Luis Valley for potential large scale solar development. (Antonito Southeast, Los Mogotes East, DeTilla Gulch)





This draft PEIS proposes six alternatives for identifying public lands appropriate for solar development - and those to be excluded - across all western states. Such changes could impact our most treasured public lands across the West, including the National Conservation Lands that have the potential of being designated on BLM lands.





How do you participate in this process?

1. Write and submit comments by Thursday, April 18.


2. Review BLM’s maps for the proposed solar application areas. Let us know if there is any overlap with sensitive or priority landscapes. We can elevate the conflict in our comments. For example, are there any future units of the National Conservation Lands that the Bureau should exclude from solar development?  


3. Attend a public meeting, either in person or virtually:  

a. Virtual Meeting: Wednesday, March 6, 11:00 a.m. MT (pre-registration is required)

b. Sign on to SLV Ecosystem Council comments. We will send ours out to you as soon as they are finalized.

c. Please email Director Christine Canaly <info@slvec.org> with any questions or to identify sensitive habitat that overlap with the solar application areas.

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