Printed letters, July 25, 2012
The Piceance Basin has been called the mule-deer factory of western Colorado. The truth is, while it still boasts the country’s largest migratory mule deer herd, the Piceance Basin has a herd that is less than half of what it was in the early 1980s when there were more than 100,000 deer.
There may be a number of reasons for the decline, but one thing is certain — the current oil and gas development and the 10,000 to 20,000 new wells projected for the area over the next 20 years or so will only ramp up pressure on wildlife.
Those of us who’ve hunted on the Roan Plateau and surrounding areas can remember a time when we could draw multiple deer licenses because the state was trying keep numbers down. These days, you can walk all day and see just a handful of deer — or none.
The recent federal court decision requiring the Bureau of Land Management to take another look at the drilling plan for the Roan Plateau is a chance to hold the line against more losses. The Roan provides crucial winter and summer range for big game on top and at the base and habitat for genetically pure native cutthroat trout on top.
The BLM acknowledged in its 2007 plan that “some areas of high-quality wildlife habitat would be lost or permanently altered” as a result of road and well construction and there could be “a permanent loss of wilderness character as a whole.”
We can do better by Colorado’s fish and wildlife, which are a cornerstone of our economy and heritage. The alternative will be isolated pockets of wildlife instead of the awe-inspiring gatherings and movement of animals across the landscapes that define this part of the country and help shape us.
People, not drilling, are top environmental problem
A good drilling plan for the Roan Plateau is needed. Years of litigation are what the environmentalists are after because as long as it stays in litigation, it means no drilling on the Roan.
Environmental groups should pool the money that they will spend fighting this and purchase the leases from the oil and gas companies, hang “No Trespassing” signs up and close the Roan Plateau off to anyone’s use but their own. I believe most of it is private anyway.
But if you have taken a look around at the lakes, streams, highways or any place you might go, you will see that people are the biggest problem to today’s environment. They throw their trash everywhere with total disregard to the environment, including national parks, national forests, rivers, lakes and streams. So it goes without saying that people in general are the biggest threat to the environment today.
If they want to save the Roan Plateau, buy out the leases, no matter the cost.
Great Old Broads laud Roan Plateau decision
Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a national wilderness advocacy organization based in Durango with more than 400 Colorado members and nearly 80 in Mesa County, applauds the district court’s decision to send the natural gas drilling plan for the Roan Plateau back to the BLM for revision.
In 2003, Great Old Broads held a Broadwalk on The Roan to support increased protection for this remarkable landscape, and our organization has remained involved in the issue since then.
The wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and biological diversity found there are all more valuable than the quick buck that might be made in despoiling the plateau with industrial- scale petroleum development, especially given that natural gas prices are at historically low levels.
Only 33 percent of the gas leases on BLM lands are currently in production, which means there is plenty of time for the agency to do a careful, balanced and low-impact plan for the Roan, taking into account the public’s clear desire to leave large portions of it undisturbed.
BLM and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program have described the top of the Roan as one of the four most biologically rich places in Colorado. It deserves far better management than the overturned plan would have provided.
At a time when we should be doing all we can to conserve both our natural resources and our energy sources, we can be thankful the brakes have been applied on this inadequate plan. Great Old Broads and the rest of the conservation-minded public will be watching the redo closely.
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
Quarry article presents (dinosaur) bone of contention
Regarding the front-page story on July 9, “Tourists dig it,” I doubt the 1.87-meter-long femur in the Mygatt-Moore quarry is that of a plateosaur. Plateosaurs lived in the Triassic, not in the Jurassic, and were pseudosauropods, as I recollect.
Without seeing the bone, I believe it’s more likely that of an Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus). I miss the quarry, but my old legs are no longer up to it. My best to all in Grand Junction.