Areas of Critical Environmental Concern:
1.6 million acres of protections across 16 Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, 6 of which are new to this iteration of the Plan.
This is a huge increase from 286,000 acres across 10 ACECs in the current Plan.
New and expanded ACECs include areas around the Golden Triangle, Adobe Town, Red Desert to Hoback Migration Corridor, Boar’s Tusk, all WSAs, and many others.
Management prescriptions for these ACECs have been strengthened to include mineral withdrawals, closures on new energy development and lease sales, restrictions on motorized use, surface disturbing activities, and oil and gas exploration and development on crucial big game winter ranges, big game birthing areas, and sage- grouse nesting habitat and winter concentration areas.
Tribally significant areas are incorporated into several of the new and expanded ACECs. These will see expansions in viewshed protections, buffer zones for energy development, and potential road closures.
National Historic Trails and National Historic Places near South Pass are also incorporated into new and existing ACECs. These too will see expansions in viewshed protections and buffer zones for energy development.
Wilderness Study Areas:
227,960 acres across 13 WSAs
All Wilderness Study Areas within the planning area are partially or wholly overlapped by new and existing ACEC designations.
Should they be released by congress, these areas will still be managed to preserve their wilderness characteristics.
Additionally, the preferred alternative includes a 3 mile visual buffer around each WSA to protect wilderness & scenic values within.
Lands with Wilderness Characteristics:
63,918 acres have been identified as Lands with Wilderness Characteristics and will be managed to preserve their wilderness values.
This includes a portion of the areas submitted in a citizen’s inventory conducted by WWA in 2015.
The current plan includes no Lands with Wilderness Characteristics.
Wild and Scenic Rivers:
9.7 miles of the Sweetwater River are designated as suitable and will have a half mile development buffer on either side of the river.
Over 2 million acres are closed to new oil and gas lease sales and other forms of energy development. These closures occur in areas with low to moderate potential for oil and gas production. Taking low to moderate potential lands off the table, where there are no economically recoverable minerals, means the BLM can then manage for where the resource is actually high and prioritize these low to moderate potential lands for wildland protection and other uses.