Sen. Ray Scott

Sen. Ray Scott

As victories go, this one is barely worth the effort of popping open a bottle of water or celebrating with a cupcake.

The Bureau of Land Management, whose motto is: “Closing Off Land Is Management Enough,” has agreed to defer the closure of 200 miles of trails in the Grand Junction area.

Officials originally asked to keep 400 miles of trail open, so that’s half a victory right there – go ahead and pop that water bottle. But, considering the federal government is going to lock us out of nearly one-third or 1,400 acres of 4,000 trails under review, we’re not ready to light a candle on the cupcake just yet.

State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) shares our reservations about any deal the BLM is now willing to make, and says it should not be spun as a major step forward.

“The agency never has made a convincing case for why these access points should be closed. This just seems like another way for the agency to arbitrarily exercise power, while pleasing a vocal minority of extremists who want to limit public access to public lands. And the push to limit access couldn’t come at a worse time, given the obvious need to more actively manage these lands and the important part that open access plays in our economy and way of life,” Scott said.

It’s true that the BLM is being tight-lipped about the real reason for closing the roads. But U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet accidently spilled the beans in a recent letter with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in which they asked the federal government to pay for this and other controversial resource management plans.

Three guesses as to why, and the first two that are not “sage grouse” don’t count, because it’s the sage grouse.

According to Bennet’s letter, the feds are pursuing an unprecedented effort to amend those resource plans to protect the greatest thing to pop out of the ground since the magnificent Redwoods of California – the gnarly sagebrush of grouseland.

“Fully funding these programs is an opportunity to protect the sage grouse through voluntary, rather than regulatory, conservation efforts,” the lawmakers wrote.

If the resource management plans are a voluntary effort, we’d like to unvolunteer Grand Junction from participating.