Target: State Director of the Bureau of Land Management Ruth Welch
Goal: Keep companies from drilling for oil and gas in the White River National Forest.
About 65 illegal leases for development of oil and natural gas drilling in the White River National Forest in Colorado were reported in the recently released Final Environmental Impact Statement by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). So far, BLM is cancelling 25 of the leases, but plans to allow 27 others. Many of these 27 leases fall under current BLM protections that were proposed as recently as last year. The current plan would still leave nearly 200,000 acres of the 2.3 million-acre national forest open for leasing and development.
The lands up for lease include Mamm Peak, East Willow and Battlement Mesa, which are as ecologically important as the lands where leases have been cancelled. Such areas contain pristine habitats, erosive soils and rare species of fish and plants. Allowing oil and natural gas companies to develop these lands would endanger the wildlife for financial gain.
Towns in the surrounding area of the White River National Forest rely on the river for clean water. Matthew McFeeley, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, has stated that while the current plan shields precious roadless areas, it “stops short of what’s necessary to truly keep this wild place and the people who depend on it–protected.”
Allowing these leases could have terrible consequences, not only to the locals, but to the surrounding environment. Cancellation plans have, luckily, not yet been finalized, so there’s still time. Demand that any and all plans that would allow these illegal leases continue be stopped.
Dear Director Welch,
BLM has recently issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the White River National Forest. We applaud your organization for cancelling the 25 unlawful leases in the Thompson Divide. However, we fear that upholding the 27 other dubiously legal leases in the area would threaten the surrounding habitats.
Although the Final Impact Statement has deemed these leases allowable, we believe that such developments using the land could have catastrophic consequences to both the local habitat and local residents in the surrounding towns. As has been stated by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s legal team, allowing these unlawful leases to come to fruition would endanger the potable water and potentially destroy the pristine ecology near the Thompson Divide.
BLM’s current “preferred alternative” (allowing 27 of the 65 leases) would leave the lands in question without U.S. Forest Services protections, which have been deemed the “minimum necessary” resources. This could very well pollute the surrounding habitat and water. We urge you to reconsider the alternative and deny development leases, including all 65 already in place, for any oil or gas development.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture