BLM NM Director’s Meeting August 10, 2017
LPA President, Sandy Johnson, along with ES-CA President, Christopher Daul, and LPA’s special liaison from Washington DC, Mary-Rose de Valladares, met with:
Amy Lueders, BLM NM Director
Danita Burns, BLM Rio Puerco District Manager
Angel Martinez acting BLM Rio Puerco District Field Manager
The purpose of meeting was to discuss the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the BLM lands surrounding Placitas. The Washington Liaison initiated the community effort to secure an appropriation for RMP funding in 2000. The RMP has been in the works since 2008 and has been on the NM Director’s desk since October 2015.
The purpose so meeting was to ascertain – or at least get some idea — whether gravel mining remained the “preferred alternative” in the final, unreleased BLM RMP. This is very important to the community in view of the following: the initial RMP draft plan called for another 800 plus acre gravel mine abutting the existing Al Baca Vulcan pit along the northern border of the “buffalo tract;” and the recent settlement agreement with Vulcan will bring us another almost 10 years of mining in the heart of Placitas.
Of course, the BLM officials “could not” tell us exactly if the new mine was still in store for Placitas. This is an expected feature of the NEPA process. We did remind them of the Placitas White Paper (read it for yourself on the LPA website) produced by members of the community. The White Paper identified all the ills of adding another mine to our community in terms of further degradation of our air quality, excessive water usage, and the negative, “anti- economic development” effect. The white paper we produced was thought to be a product of a professional lobbying and consulting firm when first received by the national BLM office and our congressional delegation office. It is that convincing!
Thanks to the air quality monitor installed here in Placitas we could tell them that we now know for sure our air quality is already one of the worst in the state as measured by the NM EPA. (You too can monitor the air quality here.
The BLM did say the RMP was going through the final state review and should be released in the fall of 2017. We were reminded that the review has taken so long because there were upwards of 50,000 thousand comments — the highest number of comments ever submitted for an RMP. BLM was obliged to carefully review all comments in order to create an accurate Administrative Record. The Administrative Record will reflect public input on land use and it will serve as part of the BLM’s defense in the event of a protest or further challenge of the final RMP.
Also, there were at least 38 formal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, (also more than any other RMP, which the BLM was compelled to answer, siphoning off precious resources (time and money) that would otherwise have been devoted to completion of the RMP.
BLM steered the conversation toward the “implementation phase” of the RMP, offering the possibility of continued cooperation after the RMP is approved. We assured BLM that Placitas is a very capable, pro-cooperation community that sincerely hopes to enter into a mining-free “partnership” with BLM that is pro-open space and recreation uses preferred by the community on the Buffalo parcel “urban interface.” We also reminded BLM that a partnership under these conditions could act as national model that BLM could apply to other federal lands adjacent to established communities.
We were also assured that we would get a personal contact form Danita Burns when the RMP went to the federal register so we had ample time to organize the public meeting needed to comply with the public comment period deadlines. BLM State Director Amy Lueders is slated to leave her position in Santa Fe in the end of August/early September timeframe.
In the unfortunate event that the RPM comes out with any kind of mining or extraction provision we are prepared to immediately organize a community meeting to formulate our activities to take full advantage of the 30 day protest period provided in the RMP process. We will mail a notice to everyone in Placitas with meeting details and how you can effectively protest an unwelcome RMP outcome.