North Fork gets reprieve from O&G leasing

February 6 -  Colorado Trout Unlimited and other sportsmen's groups welcomed news that the Colorado Bureau of Land Management is withdrawing proposed oil and gas leases that include big game habitat and trout fisheries along the North Fork of the Gunnison River. The decision announced Wednesday follows protests and letters from several Colorado hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts concerned about selling leases using a 23-year-old resource management plan.

The 20 parcels covering a total of 20,555 acres in western Colorado were to be offered in the BLM’s Feb. 14 sale.

``We’re glad the BLM pulled the leases from the sale. It doesn’t make sense to push forward with selling leases in such an important wildlife and agricultural area, against the wishes of the community and using outdated planning materials and information,’’ said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation.

In a Jan. 7 letter, seven sportsmen’s groups asked the BLM to finish revising the area resource management plan before offering more oil and gas leases.

Hunters and anglers look forward to working with the BLM field office as it updates the resource management, identifies where leasing is suitable and considers the necessary safeguards, said Bob Meulengracht of Trout Unlimited and the Colorado coordinator for Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development.

Signing onto the Jan. 7 letter were Trout Unlimited; Colorado Trout Unlimited; Colorado Wildlife Federation; Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance; Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Backcountry Hunters & Anglers; and the National Wildlife Federation. The organizations represent thousands of Colorado hunters and anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts.

For more background on TU's concerns with the proposed leases in the North Fork valley, click here to read a previous post.