Protect hunting and fishing on the Roan Plateau
Dear Editor:The public lands on western Colorado’s Roan Plateau have been a haven for hunters, anglers, outfitters and others for generations. The Roan is home to pure strains of native trout, deer and elk herds and thousands of acres of wilderness-quality lands: the gold standard for backcountry hunting and angling and other outdoor pursuits.Hunting and angling – a sustainable $1.8 billion economy in Colorado – are dependent upon public lands found in places like the Roan Plateau. And the Outdoor Industry Association found that the broader active-outdoor-recreation economy contributes over $10 billion annually to Colorado’s economy and supports 107,000 sustainable jobs across the state.In the Piceance Basin (the natural-gas-rich area of which the Roan Plateau is a small part), there are roughly 7,100 square miles. The public lands on the Roan Plateau are fewer than 67,000 acres – about 1.5 percent of Piceance Basin. Moreover, some 90 percent of the public, BLM-managed natural gas in the Uinta-Piceance is already available for leasing. Clearly there is room for balance, including protecting what remains of the Roan Plateau.Recently, a federal judge seemed to agree and struck down the Bush-era Roan drilling plan, saying it wasn’t balanced and didn’t consider community-supported management for this Colorado treasure, nor did it properly disclose and consider likely impacts to the region’s air quality. In a nutshell, the Bush plan would have caused irreparable harm to the Roan Plateau by allowing some 3,000 wells to be drilled atop the plateau.The judge’s decision provides an opportunity to get it right for a place and resource that really matters to hunters, anglers and others. We all have the chance to help and look forward to working with the BLM to craft a truly balanced plan for the Roan that doesn’t jeopardize its special features, even as it makes meaningful amounts of the area available for careful development.Sportsmen and sportswomen understand the value of the gas beneath the Roan, but it’s the resources above the ground that must be protected for future generations of hunters and anglers and others.David A. Lien Co-chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & AnglersColorado Springs
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