Public BLM Lands in the North Fork Valley

In the heart of Colorado’s North Fork Valley, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers public lands critical to the well-being of present-day North Fork communities.

The North Fork’s BLM lands are close-in and proximate to the towns, farms, and people of the valley (shown in tan on the map).

These public lands are already heavily utilized and are key components of the valley’s fabric: they surround the schools, farms, orchards, and roads and railroad.

They include many local water sources and infrastructure—domestic and irrigation, neighboring and popular recreation areas and hunting lands, key wildlife habitat and delicate soils and other resources.

The North Fork’s BLM lands are intimately connected with the people, businesses, livelihoods and communities of the North Fork valley.  These lands are an important part of the backdrop to the North Fork and Smith Fork valleys.  They are the lands that visitors cherish along with those that live here, and that put the ‘scenic’ in the West Elk Scenic By-Way.

The public lands of the North Fork Valley, especially those managed by the Bureau of Land Management, are interwoven with the area’s farms, towns, residences, schools and water sources.

The BLM lands in the North Fork are still subject to a land use plan written in the mid-1980s, when many things were very different.   Today the North Fork includes Colorado’s largest concentration of organic farms and orchards, ranches, dairies, and wineries; and is the state’s only rural federally-recognized winegrowing region.   The BLM is currently revising its land use plan, and has agreed to consider a community-based recommendation for the valley, called the North Fork Alternative Plan.   The Bottom Line: North Fork’s unique resources warrant protection, public lands deserve updated management.

The North Fork Alternative Plan will give the BLM public lands of the North Fork management that is relevant today, and designed for the future; management that recognizes the unique role these lands serve to the communities and residents in the valley, and the values this community brings to the state of Colorado and the region.  The ingrained value of the shared landscape is caught here, in the North Fork’s stories and images, and with it the argument is made incumbent on the federal government, on the BLM that administers these lands, to ensure its management is updated without delay.

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