Rio Blanco County, Colorado, Land Use Plan
In June of 2016 the Douglas Creek and White River Conservation Districts adopted their land use plan for Rio Blanco County in northwestern Colorado. The idea for writing a land use plan began in 2012, following discussions surrounding a plan for the Greater Sage Grouse, and took 18 months to complete.
As stated in the finalized document, the Land and Natural Resources Plan and Policies of Rio Blanco County, a “land use plans allow conservation districts to readily participate in government-to-government interactions and federal law requires that federal agencies give meaningful consideration to policies asserted in plans developed by local governments.” A land use plan also functions as a guide for conservation districts to fulfill their mission to care for, treat and operate lands within district boundaries. Developing a land use plan involved the following steps: requesting bids from consultants; determining a template; holding public meetings to gather input; creating a steering committee consisting of not only landowners but many partners; collecting data; drafting and reviewing the document; providing forums for public comment; and approving the final plan. The cost of the project totaled approximately $75,000 and funds were provided through the Districts’ mill levy income and from Rio Blanco County, each contributing about 50 percent.
The Districts now have a comprehensive resource for presenting and discussing how their stakeholders perceive and value their natural resources and a means for ensuring that they have a voice as decisions are made by federal land management agencies within Rio Blanco County.