Protect the Roan |

Protect the Roan

(This letter was originally addressed to the “BLM Glenwood Springs Office.”)Dear Editor:I urge you to give top priority to protecting the Roan Plateau’s Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), as required by law. The Roan Plateau has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in Colorado – home to black bears, cougars, prized elk and deer herds, some of the purest strains of the imperiled Colorado cutthroat trout, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and plants that occur nowhere else on earth. The plateau is highly valued for its recreational opportunities, hunting and fishing spots, and wildlife habitat.The Roan Plateau’s ACECs should be expanded to include all lands meeting ACEC and wilderness study area criteria, as well as lands at the base of the plateau with important wildlife habitat values. At the same time, protections for ACECs should be strengthened to protect entire watersheds vital for native trout streams, to preserve wildlife habitat and to maintain wilderness qualities.In addition, ACECs on the upper Roan Plateau should be closed to oil and gas leasing, which would still leave the majority of public lands in the planning area available for energy development. The density of wells at the base of the plateau is already among the highest in the nation. There is no need to destroy the Roan Plateau’s remaining wildlands and some of the best intact wildlife habitat in western Colorado.Without these changes, thousands of acres of sensitive lands will go unprotected. Expanding the ACECs is widely supported by the public, local communities, and recommendations made by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.Eric RingsbyAspen