Colorado, N.M. governors endorse wildlife report
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Wednesday endorsed suggestions that environmentalists outlined in a new booklet, calling on companies and local governments to be mindful of the impacts that energy development and climate change have on wildlife migration.
The governors said at the book’s launch at the Denver Zoo that wildlife and fish should be allowed to thrive even as the country builds a renewable energy economy, adding that both goals are connected.
The 126-page booklet, “Beyond Season’s End,” was released by the Denver-based nonprofit Freedom to Roam, which calls for “organizations and businesses to enhance and protect wildlife corridors and landscape connectivity in North America” during climate change.
Ritter said that until recently, “we didn’t think enough about how much this issue of conservation, preservation, and wildlife corridors, the ability to roam, the ability to grow habitats in their native places” related to energy policy.
He said Colorado was working to protect wildlife, and he used as an example the new oil and gas rules implemented last year that added a wildlife representative to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The move addressed concerns that the panel was made up of industry backers.
“We really believed that we were not taking into account what was happening to migration patterns and the migration corridors as we developed this robust system of permitting for oil and gas,” Ritter said.
Some of the report’s suggestions include calling on oil and gas companies to consider wildlife when they place new wells.
Jeffrey Parrish, executive director of Freedom to Roam, praised BP PLC, saying that they raised pipelines in Canada to ensure the caribou migration is not blocked off. BP is the well operator of the oil rig currently spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.
“The challenge is making sure that we’re also thinking not only about where wildlife migrates now, where it needs to roam now, but where it needs to roam in the future with climate change,” Parrish said.
The book’s launch at the zoo took place in a room next to exhibits of lions and hyenas, which peered in through glass. At one point, Richardson was distracted by a hyena as he spoke about how he thought wildlife seemed to be becoming second fiddle to renewable energy.
“… We’ve forgotten about our wildlife … is that a – is that a wolf there?” he said, referring to the hyena.
Ritter and Richardson spoke on the same day that U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman introduced a climate bill that seeks to tackle global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The bill also aims to reduce oil imports.
“The American people want conservation. They want to protect our air, land and water, and this is the time to do it,” Richardson said.
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A majority of users of the popular Red Hill Recreation Area north of Carbondale say they would be OK with closing the trails during the muddiest times of the year.