Salazar Brothers, Udall Offer Hope for Roan

But sportsmen continue to call for full protection of plateau’s public lands

Jan. 8, 2008 / Contact:  Corey Fisher, Trout Unlimited (970) 589-9196

DENVER—Trout Unlimited applauded U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and U.S. Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar on Tuesday, after the lawmakers announced their intent to increase protections for critical fish and game habitat atop the Roan Plateau. However, the organization said, sportsmen in Colorado still believe natural gas can be attained from beneath the Roan without drilling on public lands on the plateau’s top. “Expanding the number of protected acres on the Roan is certainly good for fish and wildlife,” said Corey Fisher, a TU field coordinator who works on oil and gas issues in Colorado and around the West. “But sportsmen have sacrificed so much already—the Piceance Basin is a huge natural gas field that is being aggressively developed to the detriment of fish and game and hunting and fishing. The top the Roan is a last, best refuge for wildlife and for hunters and anglers, in the region.” Reps. Salazar and Udall and Sen. Salazar said they will introduce a bill in Congress later this month that will increase the size of the protected acreage on the Roan by 16,000 acres, all of which would be included in the Roan’s Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). In a press conference on Tuesday, however, the three said they wouldn’t stand in the way of leasing the top the Roan, albeit via a phased-in and orderly process. “That’s encouraging, but I don’t understand the rush to go after this last, unspoiled place,” said Fisher.  “The gas isn’t going anywhere, and with some patience, we can wait for technology to move along and allow us to get at the gas without sacrificing habitat and hunting and fishing opportunity.” TU and other sportsmen’s organizations in Colorado have long advocated for directional drilling to access the natural gas beneath the Roan.  “It’s possible to get at the bulk of the gas today with existing technology,” Fisher said. “With the energy boom in full swing across the West, technology will only improve, and more of the gas will be accessible if we only show some restraint in places like the Roan, that are simply too valuable to drill.”