( – promoted by Colorado Pols)
The BLM is considering leasing some 30,000 acres in Colorado’s North Fork Valley, surrounding the town of Paonia, and extending up valley past Somerset and down valley to Hotchkiss, south almost all the way to Crawford.
Oil and gas leases threaten beautiful Western Colorado valley
The Bureau of Land Management announced an Oil and Gas Lease offering http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BL… that surrounds the North Fork Valley of The Gunnison and the towns of Paonia, Crawford and Hotchkiss http://www.northforkvalley.net/ . “It looks like Custer’s last stand,” said one resident.
The good folk of the North Fork are none too pleased and the Home Guard is mobilizing rapidly. Citizens are convening meetings, combining expertise, and providing detailed information that the agency–so far–has failed to provide itself.
The federal minerals–under both public and private lands-would be auctioned off during the August 2012 lease sale in Lakewood, starting at a few dollars per acre. The BLM is currently conducting its ‘scoping’ on the project, and anticipates issuing a cursory Environmental Assessment sometime early in the year.
The BLM believes that it can put these lands up for oil and gas leasing based on its Resource Management Plan from the 1980s. But people familiar with the North Fork know that plan does not address the resources that exist here today, if it ever did.
The agency is proposing leasing numerous lands in and around Paonia State Park, for instance, even though the RMP does not even note, let alone manage for impacts to a State Park; and within municipal and other culinary source water areas, despite not identifying, noting, or providing any management to protect these resources.
The community message board–which usually helps with lost dogs, hay sales, rides to DIA and the like–was overwhelmed, so a dedicated FaceBook page has sprung up.
Expect this one to be big and noisy.
There is a reason, of course, the locals are passionate, as anyone who has visited the North Fork should be aware. The CNN post continues:
This valley is home to many organic farms, orchards, vineyards and ranches and recently has been a described as “An American Provence” by author, Thomas P. Huber. The valley is bordered by Grand Mesa National Forest, The West Elk Wilderness and Gunnison National Forest and is a fabulous recreation area for hikers, cyclists, skiers, hunters and fishermen.
Right now initial scoping comments are due soon after the New Year, although locals are pushing for an extension. Meanwhile folks are not waiting to gather the information needed to stop this project in its tracks.
It may indeed look like ‘Custer’s Last Stand.’ But recall how that one ended for the Feds.