Independence Mountain, in North Park, is a cherished wildlife area that could be impacted by proposed oil development leases. PHOTO BY MARC HONNECKE.
Greater sage-grouse habitat and other natural resource values at-risk; conservation groups and residents ask BLM to delay leases until the agency completes new management plan
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — With oil and gas development set to increase in Jackson County, environmental groups, along with hunters and anglers, are sounding the alarm.
At risk are watersheds that provide habitat for cutthroat trout, which were introduced to the area and have become an important game fish in North Park. Cutthroat are the only trout native to Colorado and are threatened due to warming waters, diversions and water quality impacts. Habitat for elk, deer, moose and greater sage-grouse could also be lost or degraded from habitat fragmentation commonly associated with energy development.
Top federal officials recently announced that greater sage-grouse qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, but that the birds will have to wait in line behind other species. In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Interior said it would work closely with state agencies and private landowners to develop collaborative conservation plans.
The Bureau of Land Management is preparing offer up numerous Jackson County parcels for oil and gas development in a May 13 lease sale, and officials with the agency said they’ve been careful to avoid sensitive areas.
The proposed lease area is about 15 miles northwest of Walden, Colo., in a part of North Park considered one of the most biologically rich areas of the state. (more…)
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling | Tagged: BLM Colorado, conservation, EOG Resources, Jackson County Colorado, North Park, oil and gas development, wildife | 2 Comments »