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Environmental groups propose more intensive Carrizo study 

A group of environmental organizations are asking the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to consider completing a more comprehensive environmental study of the Carrizo National Monument than it currently has planned. A study is required to complete a Resource Management Plan for the monument, which has been in the works for over a year and has been plagued by managerial conflict at the plain and the suicide of Marlene Braun, the Carrizo Plain monument manager.

President Clinton made the Carrizo Plain a national monument in 2001. At the southeastern corner of SLO County, the 250,000-acre Carrizo Plain contains the greatest concentration of endangered wildlife in all of California.

Geary Hund, of the Wilderness Society, has asked the BLM to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) instead of an Environmental Assessment (EA). An EIS requires public involvement in the process and it requires the BLM to officially respond to public input, said Hund.

“The BLM has done an EIS for every other national monument in California,� said Hund. “This would be the exception.�

John Dearing, spokesman for BLM California, said the decision to complete an EA, instead of an EIS, is “not carved in stone.�

The Carrizo Plain Advisory Committee, which will reconvene next year with new member appointments, will develop a draft plan that will include a decision to complete an EIS or an EA, said Dearing.

“It's still a draft plan, still being developed,� said Dearing. “No final decision has been made.�

The other groups included on the letter to the BLM, along with the Wilderness Society are the Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Los Padres Forest Watch, Natural Resources Defense Council, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Western Watersheds.

Calls to the BLM were not returned as of press time. The cost of doing an EIS is greater than completing and EA, said Hund, but “The cost of not doing an EIS could be greater because of the possible impacts to environmental and cultural resources.� ∆
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