Gathering to BLM: ‘We need more time’

  The 70-plus in attendance at Wednesday night’s meeting in Terry last week, hosted by the Bureau of Land Management, far surpassed numbers seen at other gatherings in the area where the BLM has been addressing proposed changes to be made to the management of 40,339 squares miles of federal land. 

Ekalaka’s meeting drew in about 25 people, Richland County only saw 4. Terry’s meeting was a much different story. 
The Miles City BLM office has eight meetings scheduled throughout Eastern Montana to review the Miles City Draft Revised Management Plan with county residents and local officials, where the RMP will be used.

A BLM rep explains points of the RMP
at one of the many stations located throughout
the room near the conclusion of the meeting.

   After a brief synopsis of the 1,500 page document, procedure on how to comment on it and an introduction of the dozen-plus BLM reps on hand to answer questions, BLM Field Manger Todd Yeager opened the discussion to questions.

     North side rancher Rob Reukauf asked why a comparison chart wasn’t offered where changes to the current plan and the proposed plan could have been viewed more easily.
“It would’ve been nice to see the big changes,” Reukauf said. Adding, “You can get it if you dig deep enough in the book.”
Yeager said fact sheets have been made addressing issues within the plan from grazing, sage grouse habitat to energy development, among others. Fact sheets were available at the meeting and can also be found at the BLM website,

Rancher Lon Reukauf offers reasons behind
the need for more time to review the RMP.  

Lance Kalfell asked how changes can be made to the plan between the draft and final stages.
BLM representative Mary Apple explained the key is to participate and comment throughout the process. 
“What’s critical is that you make a substantive comment,” Apple stressed, noting comments should be backed up with supporting data. Apple said she would be on hand to help those who wanted to get their thoughts on paper.
Questions rose from several people about extending the time period to comment on the draft RMP.
“Since it took you eight years to draft this, why can’t we have eight years to comment?” North side rancher Kim Keltner asked.
A petition asking the BLM for an extention on the comment period was on hand at the meeting, for those interested in signing it, explained rancher and county commissioner Todd Devlin. He said the petition was drafted because of the complexity of the RMP document requiring more time to review it. The petition came about through an April 30 meeting held in Terry where a concensus was reached that more time was needed to comment. 
Currently the 90-day comment period is set to end June 5, 2013. 

Published May 15, 2013

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