Western Colorado’s Roan Plateau threatened by BLM drilling leases
Recently, the Bureau of Land Management officially announced its intention to put all the undeveloped public lands atop the Roan Plateau on the auction block at their August lease sale. If this lease sale goes forward, it will undoubtedly change the face of this unique part of western Colorado forever.
The Roan Plateau is a wild and scenic landscape that includes clear mountain streams, waterfalls, pine forests and many species of flora and fauna that are unique to the area. In 2000, well over 52,000 acres of the Roan Plateau were designated as a Wilderness Study Area. However, due to pressure from Washington, this Wilderness Study designation was reversed in 2003. This reversal was in direct opposition to both the BLM’s own field analysis and nearly all of the public’s input.
This latest move by the BLM represents just another slap in the face to all the local governments and communities that have expressed support for protecting the Roan Plateau for over seven years. Such destruction will only increase if the Roan Plateau ” one of the few remaining undeveloped landscapes in the area ” is opened to drilling. Such destruction will change the Roan Plateau forever and the scars will remain long after the natural gas is gone and the workers have left the area.
Financially, proponents of opening the Roan Plateau to drilling point out that Colorado will benefit by a figure of roughly $550 million dollars in the next 20 years. However, what they fail to relay in these figures to the people of Colorado is that Colorado benefits from over $7.3 billion dollars per year in tourism revenue. Allowing all our public lands to be drilled for short-term profits seriously jeopardizes this important and ongoing source of revenue for our state.
In the end, the beauty of the land in Colorado is where the value lies for every citizen of the state. Without tourism our economy will suffer severely and ultimately many of the people who live here and depend on tourism for their livelihoods will be out of a job.
These natural gas wells will benefit only a small few within Colorado, many of whom moved here only for the pay the oilfields provide, not for the love of the state and the beauty it offers. Once the profit in the Roan natural gas fields is gone, the oil and gas companies and their workers will undoubtedly follow the supply and the next paycheck to the next place they can destroy ” all the while the Western Slope’s economy will be left in a shambles just as it was in the ’80s. Let’s have the foresight not to repeat the mistakes of the past and protect our beautiful and important public lands
Please visit http://www.saveroanplateau.org/ for more information and to learn how you can get involved.
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