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BLM Official Says ACEC Designation Would Not Preclude Cortez-to-Mancos Trail

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Bureau of Land Management
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  •  BLM official calls trail "a wonderful thing"

The designation of a 1300-acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern, or ACEC, on Bureau of Land Management land near the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park would not conflict with a proposed bike and pedestrian trail in the same area.

That’s what BLM Tres Rios Field Office manager Connie Clementson told the Montezuma County commissioners on Monday. The Tres Rios office is evaluating 18 possible ACECs – areas requiring special management to protect historic, cultural, scenic or wildlife values. The Mesa Verde entrance area, which harbors four rare flower species, is one of two ACECs being evaluated in Montezuma County. The other, an existing ACEC southwest of Cortez near Mud Springs, contains cultural resources. In a May 3rd letter, the commissioners wrote the BLM that none of the designations are necessary. They also wrote of their particular concerns about how a designation might affect the proposed Paths to Mesa Verde trail from Cortez to Mancos, saying it “could potentially significantly disrupt or even derail the trail plan.” But Clementson said while the BLM must mitigate harmful impacts within ACECs, those areas do not preclude most uses, including grazing and motorized travel. She called the proposed trail “a wonderful thing”. The public comment period on the ACECs has ended, and the agency is evaluating the feedback before writing an environmental assessment. Clementson said two-thirds of the comments were form letters.

 

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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