The Bureau of Land Management is touting its plan for managing 1.8 million acres of public lands in southeastern Utah as a means to protect important environmental values and sensitive resources "while allowing for an appropriate level of development."

"It would provide a balance between protection of important natural resources and commodity production, as well as offer a full range of recreation opportunities, including additional opportunities for primitive recreation experiences," BLM officials said this week.

The BLM's comments come on the heels of the agency releasing its "Proposed Resources Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement" for the Monticello Field Office. The document is immense and covers a wide range of potential impacts from different uses and sources, such as climate change, recreation and mineral extraction.

The BLM recognized that areas affected by its plan include federally listed wildlife species and habitat for a variety of wildlife. More than 28,000 cultural sites have been recorded within the 1.8 million acres, and some are linked to Pueblo people, Archaic and Paleo Indian cultures, and a number of American Indian tribes.

For more information about the proposed plan, visit the Web site, www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/monticello/planning/draft_rmp_eis.html.

More than 300 pages of comments critical of the BLM's draft proposed plan, covering everything from air quality and cultural or water resources to roads and trails or wilderness study areas, also can be found at the Web site. A 30-day protest period for the document will begin after it's published in the Federal Register. If any significant changes are made to the proposed plan, there will be another chance for public comment.