Recently, sportsmen protested the Bureau of Land management leasing out highly controversial areas near the North Fork of the Gunnison, San Juan Basin and Dinosaur National Monument to oil and gas.
The parcels covering thousands of acres in western Colorado include habitat for the greater sage-grouse, mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep and native trout as well as important agricultural and recreation areas.
In a nutshell, the places that were designated to be up for grabs, were analyzed utilizing old Resource Management Plans – RMPs for short – a document that directs how public lands be used and protected.
In Colorado, and indeed, across the west, RMPs are decades old and do not account for recent changes in the environment.
How out of date? So out of date, that they were written either on a typewriter or a 286 computer. Remember those days?
Now imagine for a moment if you were still basing all you decisions on premises that were straight out of the 80s? Needless to say your fashion might be questionable. Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, the foundation on which you based those decisions could be quite flawed.
In the information age, aren’t there better, more balanced ways to approach development? Can’t we find some sort of common ground to stand on?
“More than 20 years ago, when many of the BLM resource management plans were written, Colorado’s population was under 3 million. Now it’s more than 5 million and growing,’’ said Bob Meulengracht of Trout Unlimited. “The demands for recreation on public lands as well as hunting and fishing and other uses are growing, too. The BLM needs to fully analyze the fish and wildlife populations, the potential effects of development and come up with ways to avoid or minimize those effects. And they need to do that before leases are issued.’’
More to the point, it’s not that sportsmen are opposed to oil and gas. They just want to see it done right. Or at the very least, they want decisions to be made on current conditions and information. And in this instance, the best option or most balanced would be to wait until those plans are updated.