SWEETWATER COUNTY — Amid the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the Sweetwater County Commissioners have requested the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to postpone publishing the Draft Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RMP) until public health restrictions are lifted and in-person cooperator and public workshops and meetings can take place again.
Commissioner Wally Johnson sent a letter to Kimberlee Foster, BLM Rock Springs Field Office Manager asking for the postponement on behalf of Sweetwater County. Commissioners Roy Lloyd, Lauren Schoenfeld, and Jeff Smith, and Chairman Randy “Doc” Wendling are all in support of the letter.
The letter said that only through “this type of open dialog” can the cooperators and public effectively share their concerns regarding the Draft Rock Springs RMP.
“For Sweetwater County and its residents, the Draft Rock Springs RMP is vitally important to our economy, quality of life and ability to enjoy the wide open spaces and multiple use opportunities of public lands,” Commissioner Johnson wrote in the letter.
To preserve the opportunity for the stakeholders and residents to express and resolve their concerns over the Draft Rock Springs RMP, Johnson wrote that Sweetwater County believes the in-person meetings and workshops must occur.
“Open public dialog cannot be replaced by Zoom and computerized meeting formats. Sweetwater County has participated in these types of meetings and have found them to be ineffective leaving many participants feeling frustrated and wondering if their comments were understood or would even be addressed,” Johnson wrote.
About the RMP
A resource management plan is essentially a playbook, or guide, for land management for BLM lands. RMPs are looked at every 15 to 20 years, and the last management plan for the Rock Springs BLM Field Office was completed in 1997.
The Rock Springs RMP will be the guide for how 3.6 million acres of public land is managed and used in southwest Wyoming, including the Red Desert and the Greater Little Mountain area.
Due to the long periods of time between updating these plans, many sportsmen, outdoorsmen, and nature lovers are very concerned and involved in the process of updating the RMP.
The worry of many groups and individuals, including Commissioner Johnson, is that the BLM will reduce wildlife protections on many of these lands, allowing oil and gas leasing to take place.