Public lands planning is critical to generations in Colorado, says Greeley Spanish music broadcaster

Author: Joey Bunch - May 4, 2017 - Updated: July 31, 2017

A Spanish music broadcaster in Greeley says a Bureau of Land Management plan in the works could deeply affect future Coloradans who use public lands.

The Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan could affect generations of residents and tourists who love the outdoors, contends William Neidig, owner and president of La Familia Broadcasting in Greeley.

He penned an op-ed for the state’s newspapers, and Colorado Politics snagged the first copy. (As it should always.)

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Neidig contends the importance of making local voices heard in the plan is crucial. The plan will guide every decision on how 658,000 acres of BLM-controlled land and 3.3 million acres of mineral rights from the mountains across the plains will be managed for generations.

The public review is open until Friday, then the BLM will develop a first draft of the plan tentatively the rest of the year. Once that’s done, there will be a 90-day public comment period on the draft. The BLM has already held public hearings across the region.

Neidig is a hunter, camper and 4×4 enthusiast.

“I am a strong believer in a balanced approach to the continued management of these lands in the BLM’s Resource Management Plan revision,” he writes.

“While I enjoy four-wheeling on public lands, certain wild places of critical ecological and economic importance to local communities need to be set aside and protected for wildlife and quiet uses like hunting, hiking and fishing. Future generations need to be able to enjoy the same lands we enjoy. Sportsmen, backpackers and the outdoor industry all benefit from a balanced approach to conservation.”

Neidig said his love of Colorado’s outdoors began before he could walk, on fishing trips with his grandfather in Fairplay.

“That connection to the wild, the openness, the escape from the concrete jungle, it’s one of the most important things we can do to feel human,” he said. “My hunting buddies and I always joke with each other that tourists will pay thousands of dollars to experience just one week in the same wilderness we all enjoy right here in our backyard.”

He argues that there are business impacts associated with the plan, as well, however.

He cites a report by the Outdoor Industry Association that found outdoor recreation in Colorado generates $994 million in state and local taxes and supports 125,000 jobs.

Neidig said those who “flock to Colorado to hike or camp in Cucharas Canyon, or mountain bike in the Gold Belt Region support locally-owned hotels, restaurants, shops, and recreation companies. These locally-owned businesses, and the thousands of jobs they provide to Coloradans, depend on access to the cherished mountain ranges, woodlands, prairies, and streams on public lands.”

Comments on the plan can be e-mailed to ecrmp.comments@blm.gov or faxed to 719-269-8599.

BLM says relevant comments include those on:

  • Issues BLM has not considered or on issues BLM has identified.
  • Additional planning criteria.
  • Information that can be used when developing alternatives.
  • Reasonable alternatives.
  • Information useful as BLM considers impacts of alternatives.
  • Concerns, with reasoning, about resources in the planning area.
  • Concerns, with reasoning, about uses of public lands in the planning area.
  • Specific changes to the landscape or management actions.
  • Questions, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of information in a report already created.

“What we have in Colorado is one of the most unique landscapes in the country and it stimulates economic activity that we rely upon,” Neidig concludes.

“Eroding these protections will permanently damage the places that make Colorado such a great place to live. That is why I would like to see the revised management plan strike a balance among all the uses of public lands including development, conservation, and recreation.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.