Email Letters: November 22, 2016
Thompson Divide oil and gas leases threatens quality big game hunting
I am grateful that the BLM has moved to cancel the 25 leases in the Thompson Divide. That part of the BLM’s plan should be praised, but the cancelations should extend to the other remaining leases. The beautiful landscapes that make up the Thompson Divide and the down valley areas that were also illegally leased are equally important. They both posses very similar value to the people and wildlife that rely upon them, and they both should be protected.
Wildlife that moves around throughout the year in these areas rely on limited interaction with humans. This area has remained healthy ecologically for thousands of years without human development, fast forward to 2016 and we have the BLM preferring to leave wilderness open to drill. We can have responsible and accountable energy development without sacrificing beautiful wildlife diversity, solitude of wilderness and protection of our water.
Some of the best public places to hunt big game in the state are located in areas where the BLM’s plan would validate illegally issued leases. Drilling in these areas will diminish or eliminate that cherished use of public land. It will severely damage the outdoor recreation economy by driving hunters away, and for those who don’t want to hunt anywhere else, they may find oil rigs in meadows where elk used to gather just at the break of dawn.
I remember the last oil field boom, roads moving through once roadless hills, fields and valleys with trucks bustling through day and night. You couldn’t find peace and quiet in those parts anymore – no more good hunting, no more good places to hike or camp – everything changed.
I urge the BLM to cancel the 40 remaining oil and gas leases down valley from the Thompson Divide. It doesn’t matter to me that there are a few wells on those leases. I’ve seen firsthand, living just outside of Rifle, the effects of oil and gas development. You could smell the fumes in the air while hiking in the high country, which is the last thing you want to smell
Additionally, the leases threaten our water supply from Beaver Creek, which is an important water supply for the city of Rifle. The reclamation from oil and gas does not replace what we lose when wild land is developed. Animals and plants don’t always rebound to their once vibrant state. My friends and I will continue to write the BLM. Please move to cancel the remaining leases, along with 25 in the Thompson Divide
When Trump takes office, he should be ethically accountable to country
President-elect Trump should finalize his business associations in the next month. Then, when he takes office, he should be held accountable ethically to the United States of America and not his businesses.
We also need federal laws about hiring relatives; otherwise this old man is going to be using his children to run the White House. Using your children for a younger viewpoint is good, but hiring them and putting them in advisory positions, and possibly jobs, is not the way government should be run. There are nepotism laws in local, state and federal governments that need to be upheld. And if they aren’t at the federal level, then we need a new law.
We need to keep our public lands in public hands
Last week’s announcement that the Bureau of Land Management removed a significant portion of oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide country should be regarded as good news. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the BLM announced that 25 of the 60 leases would be permanently retired.
While some may bemoan the fact that more or all of the leases weren’t shelved, it’s worth recognizing that local voices banged the drum loud enough that action was taken and now one of the largest remaining undeveloped tracts of big game habitat in Colorado will remain intact for future generations. Those local voices included anglers, livestock operators, hunters, mountain bikers, skiers and more all working collaboratively to come up with an intelligent and forward thinking course of action to protect an incredible place where every single person can get out, unplug and roam.
Colorado is doing more than its fair share in the oil and gas production arena and for those who claim closing the doors on some oil and gas leases is costing our region jobs and money, consider this: the recreational industries in the Thompson Divide area already support upwards of 300 jobs and $30 million in revenue every single year. And that number will likely grow with more people trickling into the North Fork and Roaring Fork Valleys.
Along with major grass-roots and local effort, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers played a huge role in helping to safeguard the high quality habitat of the Thompson Divide and is doing so in other places across the U.S. to ensure that our public lands stay in public hands. Can you imagine the White River and Gunnison National Forests and BLM grounds that surround our valleys being gated, padlocked and/or privatized? If we don’t pay attention and speak up, there are many misguided and misinformed individuals who want to do just that. Keep public land in public hands!
BLM must in good conscience cancel leases in Beaver Creek area
I applaud the Bureau of Land Management for proposing to cancel 25 leases in the Thompson Divide. The cancelation of these leases does three things that are very important to my amigos and me. First, it protects the unique wildlife and ecosystem in the Divide. Second, the areas will remain roadless, which keeps it wild and preserves primitive recreation in these areas. Third, and most importantly, it protects the watersheds of Carbondale and Oak Meadows.
Water is a basic necessity of life, and pollution of American’s watersheds is a recurring story in our country. Contamination of our drinking water is no joke and should not be taken lightly by the BLM. The side effects of contaminated water have been traced to cancer, birth defects, stillborn, and numerous other adverse effects to mental and physical health. Both polluted water and its side effects are real and documented, and the pollution of watersheds in many cases has come from oil and gas development. It is great that Carbondale residents may be able to rest assured that their water is safe from harmful oil and gas development, but what about the rest of us? What about my children? My family? My friends?
The city of Rifle is using water from Beaver Creek as a main source of its municipal water supply. In the BLM’s analysis of 65 illegal leases on the White River National Forest, the agency’s preferred alternative would leave leases open to drilling in the Beaver Creek area. The plan wouldn’t even add new stipulations to protect our watershed that the U.S. Forest Service said were the “minimum necessary.” This failure means that new drilling could occur in Beaver Creek that would threaten our watershed.
Why is our water not protected? Lands with pristine watersheds and wilderness down valley from Thompson Divide deserve to be protected. I know injection wells pump chemicals into the ground and can lead to induced seismicity. I have friends who work in oil and gas and they tell me that the chemicals put in the ground from injection wells don’t all come back out, and at times they get into the water table. Leaks and cracks in casing and induced seismicity caused from fracking can all lead to those harmful chemicals getting into our water supply. The Bureau of Land Management must in good conscience cancel the leases in the Beaver Creek area.