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Desert draft public comment period extended

July 12, 2001

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has extended the public comment period for the draft northern and eastern Colorado Desert coordinated management plan environmental impact statement and the draft northern and eastern Mojave plan amendments and environmental impact statement to Nov. 1.

BLM received numerous requests from the public and the BLM's California Desert District Advisory Council, which is a Congressionally mandated 15-member council appointed by the U.S. secretary of the Interior to advise BLM on the management of public lands in Southern California. The council agreed the public needed additional time to review and comment on the two draft plans.

"Both of these draft plans are complex and we want to ensure the public has adequate time to thoroughly review and comment on these documents," said Tim Salt, BLM California Desert District Manager. "We also realize that summer is not the best time to be conducting field reviews out in the desert, so the extension will provide the public sufficient time to complete their field work safely."

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The draft northern and eastern Colorado Desert coordinated management plan environmental impact statement was released for public review Feb. 26. BLM extended the original 90-day public comment period to July 9. The draft plan analyzes alternatives for managing threatened, endangered and sensitive species and habitats on federal lands administered by the BLM, Joshua Tree National Park and the U.S. Marine Corps' Chocolate Mountains Aerial Gunnery Range, and will amend BLM's 1980 California Desert Conservation Area Plan. The NECO planning area encompasses about 5.5 million acres in eastern San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties.

The draft northern and eastern Mojave plan amendments and environmental impact statement was released for public review and comment April 13, and also will amend BLM's 1980 California Desert Conservation Area Plan. The draft NEMO plan EIS will provide for strategic, comprehensive management, including a programmatic biological opinion for the desert tortoise and streamline the processing of land-use permits. The NEMO planning area encompasses about 9 million acres, which includes Death Valley National Park, the Mojave National Preserve and 2.4 million acres of BLM managed public lands between the two park units.

For more information call Dick Crowe at (909) 697-5200 for a bound or CD-Rom copy of the draft NECO plan, or Edy Seehafer at 525-6000 for a bound or CD-Rom copy of the draft NEMO plan. Both draft plans also are available online at http://www.ca.blm.gov/cdd/landuseplanning.html

Comments on the draft NECO plan should be mailed to the U.S Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Dick Crowe, 6221 Box Springs Blvd., Riverside, CA 92507. Comments on the draft NEMO plan should be mailed to the Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Edy Seehafer, 2601 Barstow Road, Barstow, CA 92507.

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