The BLM's proposal will contaminate our water and destroy our community. Here's the article from our local paper, The Sandoval Signpost: http://www.sandovalsignpost.com/
BLM draft RMP impacts Placitas open space
—Las Placitas Association
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has finally released the Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Rio Puerco Field Office. This covers a large area in central New Mexico, including Sandoval County. There are three BLM parcels in the Placitas Area.
The draft RMP does not address vehicle use in the BLM lands, such as off-road vehicles (ORVs), other than the mention motorized traffic on the Crest of Montezuma. The BLM’s intention is to formulate a Transportation Management Plan only after the RMP is finalized.
Factors that the BLM must take into account when formulating their RMPs include social and economic concerns. Clearly mining of any sort close to towns and communities such as Bernalillo and Placitas strongly raises these concerns, since such activity can affect health, quality of life, and property values. Also, if resource development in the BLM lands curtails or prevents recreational activities there, then this affects social and economic conditions in the area, so public comments could productively focus on the social and economic impacts of mining and other development activities.
The following describes only the draft RMP “Preferred Alternatives” for three Placitas parcels:
Parcel A, 3,500 acres north of Placitas, would be “managed as controlled surface use for extraction of leasable fluid minerals, open to extraction of salable minerals and locatable mineral entry.” The term leasable fluid minerals refers to oil and natural gas, along with other fluids. Salable minerals include sand and gravel. Locatable minerals include gold, silver, and uranium, among other minerals. The preferred alternative opens only two sections in the Placitas Area to the mining of gravel and other solid minerals.
The preferred alterative for Parcel B, a two-hundred acre parcel bordering Overlook, Cedar Creek, and Ranchos de Placitas, calls for “Land Ownership Adjustment,” and would be subject to transfer of ownership to other public or private entities. Parcel B is a favorite place for hikers.
The preferred alternative for Parcel C, the Crest of Montezuma, opens the door to the possibility of transferring the Crest to the Forest Service, as per HR 491 sponsored by Representative Martin Heinrich, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a unanimous vote. Presently, we are awaiting the bill’s introduction in the U.S. Senate. If it passes there, and the President signs the bill, then the Crest will transfer to the Forest Service. However, if this transfer does not occur then the BLM preferred alternative opens the Crest to oil and gas extraction, but not to salable or locatable mineral extraction, and also allows motorized travel along existing roads and trails.
Here are some of the issues of concern to residents in Placitas, Bernalillo, and other surrounding communities:
Oil and Gas Extraction: opening lands to oil and gas extraction can cause leaks into aquifers. This can occur even with mere exploration for oil and gas reserves. The aquifers under the BLM lands service both Placitas and Bernalillo, among other areas. The Preferred Alternative for the Crest of Montezuma allows for oil and gas extraction. Preventing this is a strong reason to push for transfer of the Crest to the Forest Service. The draft RMP indicates that there is one oil and gas lease near Placitas and there have been other explorations. So it is a real possibility that oil and gas exploration, and possibly extraction, would occur in the Placitas Area if it were allowed for in the RMP.
Gravel Mining: only Sections 13 and 18 in Parcel A would be open for gravel mining under the “Preferred Alternative.” Section 13 is a half mile or more from Placitas private lands, but parts of Section 18 are closer to private lands. The community may seek to eliminate such mining entirely in the BLM lands, or to limit it only to areas a sufficient distance from private lands.
Wild Horses: during the initial comment period for the RMP, many residents of Placitas and elsewhere submitted comments requesting that Parcel A be turned into a Wild Horse Preserve, or otherwise protect the horse herds that roam through there. The BLM ruled that these comments were “out of scope,” meaning that they could not be taken into account when formulating the RMP. However, Section 2.4.2 of the draft RMP, titled “Wild Horse Preserve, Sanctuary, State Park, or Herd Management Area Alternative,” explicitly addresses this issue. It rejects the existence of wild horses within the Rio Puerco Planning Area, including the Placitas Area. It states that “the feral and unclaimed horses in the Planning Area are trespassing on BLM-administered lands, are not a part of the BLM’s inventory or management program as a result of the Wild Horse Act, and will not be considered as a part of the BLM’s resource management program in this RMP/EIS process.” By including this section in the draft RMP, the BLM seems to be placing the issue of the Placitas horse herds within scope, and thus comments could appropriately be addressed towards this issue.
The full draft RMP, along with maps, can be viewed on the Las Placitas Association web site, at http://lasplacitas.org/rio_puerco/index.php. The hard copy can also be viewed at the Placitas Community Library.
When finalized the RMP will determine how these lands will be managed for the next twenty years. Now that the draft RMP has been released, there is a ninety-day public comment period ending on October 11, 2012. After that the BLM will finalize the RMP, based largely on the inputs it receives. This will be our last opportunity to affect the outcome of the plan, so everyone concerned should attend meetings and submit comments to the BLM. Comments that will be most effective are those that challenge data submitted with the draft RMP, and/or provide relevant data missing in that document. They may be submitted electronically at: NM_RPFO_Comments@blm.gov, or by mail to: Bureau of Land Management, Attention: Angel Martinez, 435 Montaño Road NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87107. For questions about the planning process, please contact Angel Martinez, Rio Puerco Field Office RMP Team Lead, at 505-761-8918.
BLM will hold a number of public meetings within the ninety-day comment period. The one for Sandoval County will be held on September 17, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Bernalillo High School Gym. LPA (Las Placitas Association) is working with other community groups to organize a Community Meeting in Placitas before the BLM public meeting. The purpose of this Community Meeting will be to provide information, to discuss the main issues, and to provide instruction on how to submit productive, substantive comments to the BLM. The date of this Public Meeting is yet to be determined. It will be published in the next Signpost, and also notification will be sent to members of LPA and other local community organizations.
To participate in this discussion, and for updates and announcements, please visit the ES-CA (Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association) Forum at: www.es-ca.org/blog/2012/07/05/blm -resource-management-plan-rmp-published/. By pressing “Leave a Reply,” you can post comments.