A recent meeting of the new advisory committee for the Carrizo Plain National Monument was described as "very positive" by Johna Hurl, monument manager for the Bureau of Land Management.
The calm atmosphere at the Sept. 22 all-day meeting at the Carissa Plain Elementary School was a sharp contrast to earlier conflicts over the management of the vast grassland, punctuated by the suicide of former monument manager Marlene Braun in 2005.
The nine-member advisory committee, chaired by San Luis Obispo's natural resources manager Neil Havlik, is looking at a range of alternatives for the future management of the Carrizo Plain. Known as "California's Serengeti," the 250,000 acres are home to many rare, threatened, or endangered species.
"The alternatives range from a 'hands off' approach at one end, to an active management role at the other end," Hurl explained after the meeting.
Alternatives for public use of the national monument range from "self-exploration and discovery" to interpretive programs, she said.
The various possibilities were suggested at a series of public "scoping" meetings, and will be examined in a detailed environmental impact report to be produced next year.
Public comments were accepted throughout the recent meeting, in addition to an hour set aside specifically to hear from the public.