Environment Watch

BLM citizen council to meet for first time since national monument review


The Bureau of Land Management Farmington District will host a public meeting of its resource advisory council for the first time since the U.S. Interior Department canceled all such meetings earlier this year.

The council, which is one of four in the state and 30 around the county, will convene for a day-long meeting in Farmington Dec. 5 and 6. It will take place at the Farmington District Office at 6251 College Blvd, Suite A, Farmington.

The council provides advice and recommendations on the management of resources and land for 1.6 million acres of public land located within the Farmington District's jurisdiction of 12 Northern New Mexico counties.

A June meeting of the council, which is made up of 10 members from outside the agency and covers the Taos area, was canceled in May as Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the suspension of more than 200 federal advisory boards and committees in order to review their mission and function.

One member of the council told The Taos News in May the canceled meetings were in conflict with the administration's purported call for more local input on the management of public lands.

Despite all available technology, the meeting will not be streamed live for people to join or listen remotely.

Folks from Taos will have to travel nearly four hours to make their voices heard in person. And they won't have much time.

Only half an hour has been scheduled for public comments at a meeting with topics ranging from management plans for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and the entire Farmington Field Office, the Taos recreation plan, grazing permits and air quality in the Four Corners.

The agenda also includes an introduction of new council members, electing of a new chair, the Farmington Glade Run recreation implementation plan, an overview of the Fire and Fuel plan treatments for the Farmington District and a presentation on Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, according to a press release from the BLM.

Public comment is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Dec. 5. "Depending on the number of persons wishing to speak and time available, individual comments may be limited," read a press release from the BLM announcing the meeting.

The public may also send written comments to the council by mailing to the BLM Farmington District Office, Attn: Zach Stone, 5251 College Blvd, Suite A, Farmington, 87402. Written comments must be received no later than Dec. 4.

Since July, only 10 BLM advisory council meetings have been noticed in the Federal Register. The Farmington meeting has not yet been noticed.

A tour of the Chockcherry Canyon Glade Run Recreation Area will begin Dec. 6 at 8 a.m. from the Farmington District Office, returning to the office by noon. The public will have to provide their own transportation and bring their own lunch and water.

The public is encouraged to direct questions to Zach Stone, BLM spokesperson in the Farmington office, at (505) 564-7677 or by email at zstone@blm.gov.