Enviros want BLM lands protected | AspenTimes.com

Enviros want BLM lands protected

CARBONDALE ” A coalition of environmental groups wants the Bureau of Land Management to increase protection for “wilderness-quality lands” in northwest Colorado, including the Thompson Creek area southwest of Carbondale.

The coalition, which includes Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop, said gas exploration, off-road vehicle use and exploding recreational use have placed lands under unprecedented pressure. It’s imperative that the BLM act to ensure some lands affected by the management plans are preserved in their pristine state, the group said.

“Under BLM’s plan, pristine wildlands, such as the unique rock fins of Thompson Creek and Deep Creek’s rugged limestone canyons and caves face uncertain futures,” the coalition’s statement said.

The BLM is working on two separate Resource Management Plans that affect roughly one million acres of public lands in northwest Colorado. Lands in Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle counties will be affected.

The areas singled out by the coalition for extra protection included Thompson Creek and the Grand Hogback near Rifle.

The coalition wants the existing Thompson Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern expanded from 4,286 to 9,250 acres.

It wants the Grand Hogback from Rifle Gap to Piceance Creek Road protected because it is crucial habitat for wildlife and rare plant species. Nearly all of the area targeted by conservationists for protection is open to oil and gas leasing.

The conservation groups in the coalition are trying to rally their members to support the suggested protections while the BLM takes public comment on the management plans.

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