The Trump administration is examining land use planning procedures and other environmental reviews, keeping in line with its stated commitment to roll back what some consider burdensome requirements.
The Bureau of Land Management said on Monday it is requesting “ideas and input” on how the agency can make procedures and reviews timelier and less costly. The effort comes after President Trump’s March approval of a House Joint Resolution, which nullified the BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule.
The rule gave more power to citizens in approving larger projects on public lands, which includes more than 8 million acres in Colorado.
The Trump administration has sought to roll back several Obama-era environmental actions, including regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon and methane pollution, as well as federal regulatory authority over small bodies of water.
“The decisions made in land use plans and environmental reviews are fundamental to how public lands and resources are used for the benefit of all Americans,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “The Trump Administration and the Department of the Interior are committed to working with state and local governments, communities, Indian tribes, and other stakeholders as true partners to determine the best ways to accomplish this, now and into the future.”
Federal officials are working with state and local elected officials, including the Western Governors’ Association and the National Association of Counties, to engage and gather input. Comments can be taken at a BLM website.
“We are doing this because Secretary Zinke and President Trump both strongly believe that public engagement, especially at the local level, is a critical component of federal land management,” said BLM Director Michael Nedd. “We need and want input from our state and local partners as well as from the general public in this effort.”
A 21-day public input process began on Monday. Following the process, the BLM will prepare a report that will be released later this year.
Resource management plans provide a framework for land use authorization decisions on BLM-managed public lands, including those relating to subsurface federal minerals, according to the BLM. Most land use authorization decisions are preceded by review under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Through the public NEPA process, the BLM analyzes the effects of proposed plans and land use authorization decisions and discloses them to the public.
The Trump administration review of land use planning procedures falls in line with several Republican efforts to hand back control to the states.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, successfully pushed a measure through the House Natural Resources Committee last week to prohibit the departments of Agriculture and the Interior from requiring the transfer of water rights as a condition of any land-use permit. The bill also requires that future directives from the departments be consistent with state water law.
Tipton said he became concerned over federal attempts to manipulate federal permit, lease and land management processes to circumvent state water law and “hijack” privately held water rights. He pointed to a U.S. Forest Service attempt to require a transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government as a condition for granting permits on National Forest System lands.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Greeley, backed a measure that would designate the Bureau of Reclamation as the lead coordinating agency for water project permitting among state and federal governments on federal lands.
Buck points to the Northern Integrated Supply Project, a multi-county water storage effort that would impact much of northeastern Colorado. Buck said the project and others face delays because of burdens imposed by federal agencies. He hopes designating an agency to handle such requests would streamline the process.
The permitting of the NISP project has already cost Colorado communities over $15 million and has dragged on for over 13 years, Buck said.
“In Colorado, water is tough to come by, which makes water storage a necessity,” Buck said. “We need to streamline the water project permitting process so that future projects like NISP don’t take over a decade to win a permit.”
After nearly a decade, Denver Regional Transportation District’s University of Denver and Colorado light rail stations need to become more visible gateways to surrounding communities, rather than the "back doors" they now represent to their neighborhoods, according to a study of the two stations and their mobility possibilities.
“It is time these stations transition from commuter stations to integrated mobility hubs and active local destinations,” reads an online City and County of Denver study description.
The impetus of a city review of an otherwise rarely-used parking exemption was the introduction of tiny house developments into already established Denver neighborhoods.
About 20 people from Denver neighborhoods spoke May 1 during a public hearing on the topic. There with mixed reactions to a parking requirement.
It sometimes seemed like something from science fiction, as Denver City Council’s Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee viewed a presentation on driverless, or autonomous, vehicles by a venture capital investor and author of a book on the technology, with another book planned.
Rutt Bridges, founder of Colorado’s Bighorn Center for Public Policy and former candidate for U.S. Senate and governor, said he ...
A first-time, multi-department planning process in the City and County of Denver — known as Denveright — is working well, members of Denver City Council were recently told. The effort was announced nearly one year ago by Mayor Michael Hancock and is designed to show a vision for Denver over the next two decades. Four coordinated plans will help shape the future of Denver’s land use, mobility and parks and recreational resources.
Relief for the always-crowded free 16th Street Mall shuttle service in downtown Denver is a main goal of an upcoming study of another free circulator route that city and Regional Transportation District officials think could be pulling more weight.
The two entities are poised to approve an intergovernmental agreement that would call for the city to pay up to $1.5 million for the study, design and implementation of improvements to the Free MetroRide, which runs from Union Station to Civic Center Station on Broadway, Lincoln, 18th and 19th streets weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. and 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.
One proposed amendment to Denver's small lot parking exemption was not viewed favorably by the city's Community Planning and Development department, as a lengthy dispute over how the city should approach the issue continues.
In August, City Council approved a seven-month moratorium on the zoning code’s small zone lot parking exemption for certain projects. The moratorium was proposed by Councilmen Albus Brooks and Paul Kashmann. Due to a lack of consensus on how to proceed when the moratorium was to expire this month, a 60-day extension was recently approved by the Council.
A small, fledgling, informal group of Denver residents wants to "bring the voice of yes" to the city as it considers how to address growth-related issues like affordable housing, transportation and parking, according to the group's "unofficial leader."
Part of a small but growing nationwide movement called Yes In My Backyard, YIMBY Denver formed after a Boulder gathering last summer, said Ian Harwick, a Denver resident since 2000 who has lived in Colorado since he was six months old.
Almost every new resident of Denver adds another automobile to the city's already crowded roads and highways, and those cars and trucks need a place to park when their owners are home or elsewhere.
The advent of “micro” housing units, also known as tiny houses, in established Denver neighborhoods led to concerns over the city's pre-existing small lot parking exemption in the city zoning code, especially if two such lots were developed side by side, said City Council President Albus Brooks.