Published May 23rd, 2016 by Budd-Falen Law Offices, L.L.C.
The White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts (Districts) are made up of locally elected landowners who provide leadership in the wise use of the natural
resources within the Districts’ boundaries. Conservation districts in Colorado are defined as “local governments” thus have the ability to participate in government-to-government interactions with the federal agencies. The Districts are joining with Rio Blanco County to develop a Land & Natural Resource Use Plan and Policy (Plan) to translate their statutory mandate (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 35-70-108) into land management policy and direction guided by local landowners. One of the Districts’ responsibilities is: “To prepare a plan for the care, treatment, and operation of the lands within the district.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 35-70-108(1)(k). Additionally, Colorado conservation districts were created by the state legislature to provide for constructive methods of land use providing for the conservation and preservation of natural resources, including adequate underground water reserves, the control of wind and water erosion, and the reduction of damage resulting from floods. The purposes of the conservation districts are to “insure the health, prosperity, and welfare of the state of Colorado and its people . . .” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 35-70-102. By state statute, Colorado county governments, like Rio Blanco County, have authority to (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 30-11-101(k)): Coordinate, pursuant to 43 U.S.C. sec. 1712, the “National Environmental Policy Act of 1969”, 42 U.S.C. sec. 4321 et seq., 40 U.S.C. sec. 3312, 16 U.S.C. sec. 530, 16 U.S.C. sec. 1604, and 40 C.F.R. parts 1500 to 1508, with the United States secretary of the Interior and the United
States secretary of Agriculture to develop land management plans that address hazardous fuel removal and other forest management practices, water development and
conservation measures, watershed protection, the protection of air quality, public utilities protection, and private property protection on federal lands within such County’s jurisdiction. Thus, based on these statutory authorities, the policies and powers of the Districts and Rio Blanco County encompass the obligation to protect the customs and culture of the local citizens, to provide for community stability, and to protect the natural environment and resources. The purpose of this land use plan is to be a guide to efficiently and effectively use the resources while protecting the environment.
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