Protest/Appeal of Kremmling BLM FRMP & FEIS


 April 22, 2014

  Bureau Of Land Management Director (21 0)
ATT: Protest Coordinator
20M Street SE, RM 2134LM
Washington DC 20003

Protest/Appeal of Kremmling BLM FRMP & FEIS

Dear Sirs:
Please accept this correspondence as the appeal of the entirety of the Kremmling Field Office (“KFO”) RMP and FEIS (collectively referred to as “The Plan”) by the above Organizations. The Organizations are forced to appeal the plan in its entirety as many of the appeal points are foundational in nature and directly impact the balancing of resources in the Plan. These foundational analysis issues include failure to meaningfully analyze recreational economics, failure to apply accurate management documents for various species, failure to incorporate state planning documents addressing the importance of recreational usage of the planning area. The Organizations vigorously assert these failures have directly resulted in the KFO proposal that closes over 50% of multiple use recreational routes on the planning area, as recreational usage of the KFO is repeatedly identified as the primary usage of the planning area. The Organizations vigorously assert these decisions are arbitrary and capricious as a matter of law and fact and are made in violation of numerous federal planning requirements.

Prior to addressing the specific appeal points, a brief summary of each Organization is needed. The Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (“COHVCO”) is a grassroots advocacy organization of approximately 2,500 members seeking to represent, assist, educate, and empower all OHV recreationists in the protection and promotion of off-highway motorized recreation throughout Colorado. COHVCO is an environmental organization that advocates and promotes the responsible use and conservation of our public lands and natural resources to preserve their aesthetic and recreational qualities for future generations.

The Trail Preservation Alliance (“TPA”) is a 100 percent volunteer organization whose intention is to be a viable partner, working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to preserve the sport of trail riding. The TPA acts as an advocate of the sport and takes the necessary action to insure that the USFS and BLM allocate to trail riding a fair and equitable percentage of access to public lands.

Colorado Snowmobile Association (“CSA”) was founded in 1970 to unite winter motorized recreationists across the state to enjoy their passion. CSA currently has 2,500 members. CSA has become the voice of organized snowmobiling seeking to advance, promote and preserve the sport of snowmobiling by working with Federal and state land management agencies and local, state and federal legislators. For purposes of this appeal, Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, the Trail Preservation Alliance and Colorado Snowmobile Association will be referred to as “the Organizations” in this appeal.

The Organizations are vigorously opposed to the arbitrary and capricious manner that all economic analysis of recreational usage has been undertaken in the RMP and FEIS, despite recreational usage of the planning area being repeatedly and consistently identified in the RMP and FEIS as the primary usage of the planning area. The Organizations are deeply concerned with the accurate analysis of recreational spending in the planning process, as this is the primary method of recognizing recreational activity on public lands. This faulty analysis has led to daily spending profiles, total jobs estimates and total recreational spending amounts that are so low as to lack any basis in law or fact and directly conflict with BLM species specific analysis of the KFO planning area, USFS conclusions and process that have allegedly been relied on and analysis from a variety of other sources.

The Organizations vigorously assert that the KFO conclusions are arbitrary and capricious as a matter of law as the KFO repeatedly asserts application of USFS NVUM process in the KFO economic analysis but comes to conclusions that represent less than 20% of the average daily recreational spending found in the NVUM process. KFO conclusions on average daily recreational spending simply are insufficient to allow visitors to buy fuel and return home from a visit to the KFO planning area.

The arbitrary and capricious nature of KFO conclusions on recreational spending is further evidenced by comparisons of the KFO economic analysis of recreational spending per day, which provides conclusions of $16.21 per day to that have been reached in the BLM Greater Sage Grouse analysis, which finds average recreational usage to be valued at $121.96 per day. The Organizations vigorously assert this is prima facie evidence of the arbitrary and capricious nature of the economic analysis on the KFO as these analysis have occurred at basically the same time, using the same analysis methods and almost all the KFO planning areas are identified as GRSG habitat. The KFO allocation of resources in the RMP is the direct result of a failure to meaningfully incorporate meaningful analysis of economics into the planning for and balancing of uses on the FO moving forward.

Throughout this appeal, the Organizations are forced to guess at numerous critical factors for economic analysis of recreation. The Organizations vigorously assert that these forced guesses at factors is direct evidence of a failure to comply with NEPA requirements of a detailed statement of high quality information and a hard look regarding the decision making process. Not only are these guesses direct evidence of a failure of NEPA, these failures have directly impaired the Organizations ability to create meaningful appeal points and discussions, which has further prejudiced the Organizations.

The arbitrary and capricious manner that economic analysis has been handled is further evidenced as conclusions simply have not been integrated in any manner into the KFO planning process, which appears to have merely filled in boxes on a form rather than integrate conclusions and analysis together. This position is directly supported by the changes between draft and final versions of these documents that doubled recreational visitation and spending but cut the number of jobs that result in local economies from this activity almost in half. This simply lacks any basis in law or fact.

The lack of integration of economics in the planning process is further evidenced by the fact that visitation between the draft and final versions of the plan has doubled but the amount of recreational opportunity has been reduced even further from the preferred alternative in the draft, without explanation. The Organizations vigorously assert that serving twice as many people with more than 50% less resources is a management position that warrants discussion. The Organizations would be very concerned regarding the factual and legal basis of this discussion if it were to be presented.

It is the Organizations position that the FEIS and RMP must be remanded to the Field Office for further analysis of the issues more specifically addressed in this appeal. The analysis of these issues and associated balance of uses that will result from meaningful analysis and a hard look at accurate information must then be provided to the public for an additional comment period.

It is the Organizations position that an RMP for this area that is based on accurate economic information and accurate application of management standards will look significantly different that the current management standards sought to be applied.

1. Introduction
The Organizations have been heavily involved in the planning process for the KFO in a variety of capacities, including submission of extensive comments during the formal comment period, providing copies of additional economic analysis documents as they became available, active discussions and objections to economic analysis in the plans during SubRAC meetings, correspondence with the BLM State Office regarding the issues with economic analysis that appear systemic in BLM planning in Colorado and providing copies of new Endangered Species management standards and guidelines to the KFO as these documents have been released. Included in this appeal are the Organizations previous comments; various correspondence with the BLM state office voicing our concerns on economic analysis in numerous RMPs and State office replies to these correspondence; a copy of the cover letter regarding the release of the 2013 Lynx Conservation Assessment and Strategy3; Copies of correspondence submitted in response to SubRac meetings addressing concerns on the accuracy of economic analysis4; and a copy of the Forest Service NVUM analysis for Region 2.

Note: This is only the first four pages of this document, to read it in its entirety please download the PDF (top of page).  If you would like to see any of the attachments please contact us.