Coal mining in a roadless area? Forest Service says, ‘Why not?’

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

State, feds to spend a ton of money for a new study and to fight subsequent lawsuits just to pump more Co2 and methane into the air

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — State and federal officials appear determined to let bulldozers punch into the rolling aspen forests of the Sunset Roadless Area southeast of Paonia.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service this week announced they’ll try to reinstate a contested Colorado exemption to a 2001 national roadless rule that virtually ended all logging, roadbuilding, and coal, gas, oil, and other mineral leasing about 50 million acres across the country, including 4 million acres in Colorado.

Under unique Colorado provisions in a state version of the rule, a patch of the Sunset Roadless area was designated as a mining zone, authorizing temporary construction of roads to support future coal mining in the area, mainly by enabling construction of methane vents. Conservation advocates have been challenging those exemptions ever since. Continue reading

BLM updates oil and gas drilling plan for Piceance Basin in northwest Colorado

Master leasing plan aims to protect Dinosaur National Monument

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Can a master leasing protect cherished public resources around Dinosaur National Monument?

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An aerial view of the Dinosaur National Monument entrance road. Photo courtesy EcoFlight.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A new master leasing plan proposed by the Bureau of Land Management for public lands surrounding northwestern Colorado’s Dinosaur National Monument aims to reduce oil and gas drilling impacts to wildlife, archaeological treasures and other resources in the region.

The plan could work if it’s implemented effectively, according to some public land watchdog groups, but doesn’t do much to address the larger issue of trying to move away from fossil fuels.

In fact, the agency expects oil and gas drilling to increase in the area, so the study that forms the basis for the plan evaluated impacts associated with the potential development of more than 15,000 oil and gas wells drilled on 1,100 well pads over the next 20 years. Continue reading

Cherished Colorado areas at risk as House GOP seeks to strip funding for National Conservation Lands

Budget cutting would threaten robust recreation economy

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An arch in Colorado’s Rattlesnake Canyon, part of the system of National Conservation Lands. Photo courtesy BLM.

Staff ReportFRISCO — House Republicans are continuing their nearly relentless attack on public lands with a threatened move to take away funding for more than 30 million acres of National Conservation Lands, including popular Colorado areas like the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and McInnis Canyons NCA.Gutting the budget for the National Conservation Lands threatens access to public lands that drive the nation’s outdoor economy and provide a livelihood for many Westerners.

The push by the House Resources Committee is at odds with President Obama’s budget, which recognizes these lands are underfunded and proposes an increase in funding. Dozens of national monuments and national conservation areas across the West—places like Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just outside of Las Vegas — would have to shut their doors. Continue reading

More fracking woes in southwest Colorado

BLM rejects request for orderly master leasing plan

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The BLM’s new management plan for the Tres Rios area is spurring criticism.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Residents and elected officials in southwest Colorado say a new management plan for a vast swath of public lands in the region favors oil and gas companies over community interests.

According to critics, the BLM Tres Rios land resource management plan would allow drilling near the edge of Mesa Verde National Park, adding to near-critical air pollution woes and disturbing important wildlife areas.

Most importantly, the federal agency ignored requests by local governments to ensure the orderly and safe development of fossil fuels. Continue reading

Public lands: President Obama to move ahead with Browns Canyon national monument designation

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Browns Canyon, in central Colorado, will be designated as a national monument by President Barack Obama.

Central Colorado gorge a key piece of state’s recreation economy

Staff Report

FRISCO — A long campaign by public land advocates and their political allies has paid off, as President Barack Obama will use his executive power under the Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon, in Chaffee County, as a national monument.

Along with Browns Canyon, Obama is also designating the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawaii and Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood. An official White House announcement is expected Thursday. Continue reading

Jared Polis to serve on House Resources Committee

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Congressman Jared Polis.

Colorado lawmaker expected to be a pro-environment voice on a panel led conservative Republicans who often undermine federal efforts to manage public lands on the behalf of all Americans

Staff Report

FRISCO — A languishing proposal to create new wilderness areas in the Colorado mountains may get a boost in Congress this year, as U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02) joins the House Natural Resources Committee.

In the last two years, the committee has been a bastion of anti-government rhetoric, in some cases considering bills that would significantly weaken protection for natural resources and public lands. As a member of the minority, Polis won’t be able to get any meaningful legislation passed on his own, but his pro-environmental voice will be a welcome addition for public lands advocates. Continue reading

Public lands: Industry groups once again challenge 20-year uranium mining ban around the Grand Canyon

Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon? Some Senate Republicans think it's a good idea.

Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon? Say it ain’t so!

Industry groups once again appeal 20-year moratorium in court

Staff Report

FRISCO— Mining companies just won’t give up their dream of exploiting public lands around the Grand Canyon to profit from uranium mining.

Last week, the the National Mining Association and the American Exploration & Mining Association went back to court to try and overturn a 20-year moratorium on uranium mining that covers about 1 million acres in the region. Continue reading

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