TU helps protect Colorado River Gold Medal stretch

Not all of Trout Unlimited's efforts are loud and publicized. In fact, some are quiet and calculated. There are many TU efforts that don’t generate action alerts or require high level discussions with politicians. Recently, TU's work to protect the Gold Medal Water section of the upper Colorado River from 20 oil and gas leases was successful by inserting the voice of sportsmen into the BLM’s oil and gas lease sale process. “The process of commenting on these federal land actions can feel bureaucratic and can be tedious,” said Tyler Baskfield, sportsmen coordinator for Colorado who drafted comments for TU pertaining to the May 2017 Oil and Gas Lease Sale. “But it is critical that we address federal land actions from a sportsmen’s perspective. These leases in Grand County near the Colorado River are a perfect example of what TU staff can accomplish by participating in the process and providing accurate and consistent information to federal agencies.”

The parcels had originally been nominated for the lease sale by the oil and gas industry, but the BLM removed the 20 parcels totaling 27,529 acres in Grand County from the upcoming lease sale citing “concerns raised by Grand County and other stakeholders about offering these parcels at this time,” said acting Deputy State Director for Energy Lands and Minerals, Kent Walter. “We want to be sure they are still appropriate for leasing.”

RMNPTU staff along with Grand County and a number of environmental organizations discouraged the leasing of these parcels that were close to both the Colorado River and Rocky Mountain National Park. These areas also contained cutthroat trout habitat. TU and partners commented on the potential impact to the wildlife resources and recreation in the area to the BLM throughout the NEPA process. The other organizations who commented on these potential leases played a large role in the removal of these parcels, but the sportsmen’s perspective that TU provides seemed to be especially influential in many of these efforts.

“TU’s members should feel great about the impact their contribution has to the places that sportsmen are passionate about,” said Baskfield. “It takes several staff members to participate in just one of these efforts. The staff who work on these comments and follow these processes are incredibly passionate, intelligent, and thorough when it comes to producing the desired outcome for the resource. It isn’t the most visible part of the work that we do, but it is rewarding to work with all of those talented staff members and get a win.”