On July 5, 2012 Park County Commission issued the following letter to the Bureau of Land Management’s Royal Gorge Field Office. CWF applauds this message to the BLM.
The Park County Board of County Commissioners as representatives for the citizens of Park County formally asks that the Colorado office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to make the long-term protection of South Park, Park County, and a priority before major energy development changes the face of this special part of the West.
The headwaters of the South Platte River courses through South Park. Its streams and reservoirs are what make popular gold medal streams fishing destinations possible.
The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife annually stocks all of these waters with trout that provide fishing recreation for thousands of anglers each year. Anglers have access to dozens of lakes and streams thanks to the leases the state agency has acquired and manages.
In addition, the South Platte provides drinking water for approximately 75 percent of Colorado’s population, through Denver Water.
South Park also is prime unfragmented big game habitat with an excellent network of State Wildlife Areas. It offers some of the West’s best elk hunting along with pronghorn and mule deer. Much of South Park is also prime habitat for mountain plover, a species of concern by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife; South Park supplies 15-20 percent of the known breeding population.
This sparsely populated area that has long been known for ranching, hunting and fishing and other tourism is now being leased for energy development. The oil and gas that’s wedged into geologic formations thousands of feet below South Park has prompted interest by industry in leasing. These leases lie in key habitats for humans, deer, pronghorn, elk, trout and mountain plover.
South Park is one of the West’s last landscapes that retains much of its native habitat and hunting and fishing traditions, is at risk.
As Coloradans and Westerners, we understand that energy development should and will occur. We support responsible energy development that is balanced with the needs of native wildlife populations and the important habitats they require for healthy survival.
It is for this reason that we asking BLM , as you begin the process of revising the Resource Management Plan(RMP) or a oil and gas leasing plan amendment that this is an opportunity to incorporate BLM’s master leasing planning tools to provide an effective way to ensure that the cumulative impacts on water quality and quantity, air quality, noise, wildlife, plant species, recreation , hunting and fishing , socio-economic impacts and public health impacts are addressed and mitigated when applicable. BLM should engage in a careful process that assures that the energy exploration industry, local landowners, state and federal wildlife managers and land management agencies have the opportunity to participate in planning and make recommendations about energy exploration, drilling and production.
Richard F. Hodges, Chairman BOCC