Success: Public Lands Saved from Fossil Fuel Development


Target: Neil Kornze, Director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Goal: Thank federal officials for protecting wildlife habitat and public lands from oil and gas exploration

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a moratorium preventing oil, gas and coal companies from developing public lands in Southwestern Colorado and Eastern Utah. The decision was made to defend the habitat of a threatened bird species that lives there, the Gunnison sage grouse, as well as to reduce the carbon footprint of the United States by limiting new fossil fuel extraction projects. It also marks the success of a previous ForceChange petition that aimed to save the habitat of the endangered grouse.

The moratorium prevents federal agencies from offering or selling new leases to the lands, and also requires that land-use plans be updated. This moratorium effectively makes 800,000 acres of land off -limits to the oil and gas industry. Protection of these public lands represents an important climate strategy. According to the Energy Information Administration, almost a quarter of the U.S.’s annual carbon dioxide emissions originate from federally managed oil, gas, and coal production.

The number of Gunnison sage grouse in the region has been dramatically reduced to about one-tenth of its original size due to habitat destruction. Conservationists have continued to push for protection of the Gunnison sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

The BLM’s decision to protect these public lands from development by fossil fuel companies defends the vital habitat of the Gunnison sage grouse and moves the country forward in combating climate change. Applaud the BLM for taking these measures, and for recognizing the vital role of America’s protected public lands as both wildlife habitat and climate strategy.


Dear Director Kornze,

I applaud the BLM’s recently-issued moratorium on new leases for public land in Southwestern Colorado and Eastern Utah. This moratorium blocks the oil and gas industry from developing 800,000 acres of public land and defends the threatened habitat of the Gunnison sage grouse.

The BLM’s decision to protect these public lands helps save the Gunnison sage grouse from almost certain extinction. The Gunnison sage grouse has seen destruction of its habitat reduce its numbers by roughly 90%. In addition, protection of these public lands moves the country forward in combating climate change by limiting new projects to extract fossil fuels.

Thank you, and all your colleagues at the BLM, for taking this needed action. I encourage your agency to continue to protect U.S. public lands both as wildlife habitat and as a strategy to combat climate change.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Jsayre64 via Wikimedia Commons

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