Here’s your chance to be heard, to actually impact what Johnson County will look like in the years and decades to come.
Johnson County has been blessed with abundant land and natural resources that support recreational, agricultural and extractive activities.
The county commission is in the process of writing a Natural Resource Management Plan for the county’s federally managed lands. The natural resource plan will serve as a basis for communicating and coordinating with the federal government and its agencies on land and natural resource management issues.
The plan will include objectives and priorities for the use, development and protection of natural resources. Other subjects addressed by the plan include land use and access, geology and soils, mining and mineral resources, air quality, water resources, wildlife, endangered species, invasive species, noxious weeds, predator control, forest management, fire management, wild horses, energy resources and pipelines, wilderness areas, economic development, recreation and tourism, law enforcement, fisheries and livestock and grazing.
This plan considers the current conditions of federal resources, county objectives for each resource and how the county would like to see those objectives achieved. Each chapter in the plan include resource assessments, resource management objectives and goals, and specific priorities to address those goals. While the federal government is not beholden to Johnson County’s desires as expressed in the plan, it does ensure that the county has a seat at the table when decisions are made.
The same alpine meadows where cattle graze during the summer are also home to great fisheries popular with locals and visitors alike. In land management parlance, this is known as “multiple use management.” For public land management, it means public lands have many resources (renewable and non-renewable), such as forage, timber, energy, habitat, etc., and public lands have many uses, such as grazing, recreation, mining, etc. The BLM multiple use “mandate” states that the resources and uses on public land must be utilized in a balanced combination that will best meet the needs of the people (current and future needs for current and future generations).
It might sound simple, but it’s anything but — resources are finite and balancing sometimes competing interests can be tricky. The balancing act is further complicated by the fact that federal lands abut private and state lands, and water, weed management, drilling and extraction and fire prevention all have impacts that cross property lines. And in a county like Johnson, where roughly one-third of surface area is owned by the BLM or U.S. Forest Service, the stakes are very high.
As with voting or any other civic engagement, if you choose not to participate, you may not like what you get and will have little opportunity to impact change.
While no resource plan will be perfect, there are better plans and worse plans. Local input is vital to producing a plan that protects our resources while still reflecting the historic character of our community.