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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Friday — April 23, 2004


Craters draft management plan released for review

Blueprint for ‘protection and
restoration’ of natural assets

Open house meetings

The BLM and National Park Service are scheduling open house meetings to inform Idahoans about a new draft management plan for Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. The meetings are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. as follows:

  • Arco, Tuesday, May 4 at the Arco Business Development Center.

  • American Falls, Thursday, May 6 at American Falls City Hall.

  • Rupert, Thursday, May 13 at Rupert City Hall.

  • Carey, Tuesday, May 18 at the Carey High School multipurpose room.

Additional public meetings or presentations may be requested by contacting Barbara Bassler at (208) 732-7200.

Comments should be sent to Craters of the Moon Planning Team, Shoshone BLM Field Office, 400 West F Street, Shoshone, ID 83352. E-mail comments to ID_Craters_Plan@blm.gov.

Express Staff Writer

In choosing a blueprint for managing the 750,000-acre Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve over the next 15 to 20 years, a team of government employees is proposing to aggressively manage for protection of physical and biological resources.

The National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management announced this week the release of a draft management plan and environmental impact statement for the recently expanded monument and preserve.

The document’s release triggers a 90-day public comment period that will end Wednesday, July 28. The new management plan is scheduled to be implemented by the end of the year.

The proposed focus is on one of four alternatives proposed in the draft management plan. Alternative A would not effect any changes. Alternative B would emphasize improving visitor experiences within the monument’s borders. Alternative C would "emphasize and enhance" the primitive character of the monument. Alternative D, the preferred alternative, would emphasize "protection and restoration" of the monument’s natural assets.

A team of specialists from the two agencies prepared the draft plan, said Monument Superintendent Jim Morris. The team has been working on the plan for more than two years.

In Morris’ words, the preferred alternative would put an emphasis on restoring sagebrush steppe land that has been impacted by fire, grazing and some other activities. Those lands include about 80,000 acres that are on BLM administered portions of the monument.

Under a presidential proclamation that expanded the monument in November 2000, the BLM was given management authority over sagebrush steppe portions of the monument, and the Park Service was ordered to manage the area’s abundant lava flows.

"The monument grew from 54,000 acres to more than 750,000 acres with the signing of the proclamation in November 2000," Morris said. "We involved the public and other agencies early on to help identify issues and concerns that need to be considered as a new management strategy is developed."

According to Rick Vander Voet, BLM monument manager, months of collaboration and meaningful public input have led to the four alternative management strategies that are featured in the draft plan. But he pointed out that the process is not yet finished.

"It’s a draft plan and only a preferred alternative," he said. "We still haven’t made a decision. We’re still a year away. There are three other alternatives to the preferred alternative."

Vander Voet said he hopes everyone who has participated in the process will be able to find their opinions reflected in one of the four alternatives.

"At this point, it’s not a voting exercise," he said. "We’re asking: Is there an element of one alternative that can be added to another? How can we tweak all four of those alternatives to affect the final decision."


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