Sportsmen concerned with Ritter's approach to Roan


Sportsmen concerned with Ritters approach to Roan

Dec. 20, 2007

Steve Craig, Colorado Trout Unlimited (719) 539-4236
Matt Keena, Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (970) 385-6941


Sportsmen concerned with Ritters approach to Roan
Governor misses opportunity to protect key fish and game habitat

DENVERSportsmen in Colorado expressed disappointment with Gov. Ritters approach to drilling for natural gas on the Roan Plateau on Thursday, after the governor announced he would continue working with the Bureau of Land Management on a plan to allow drilling from public land atop the Roan Plateau.

The plateau is home to trophy deer and elk herds and two populations of genetically pure Colorado River cutthroat trout, as well as huntable populations of blue and ruffed grouse and a solid recreational fishery for wild brook trout.

Weve been very clear with the governor and the BLM that protecting critical fish and wildlife habitat on the Roan is vital to sportsmen in this state, said Steve Craig, an avid angler from Salida, and the president of the Colorado Council of Trout Unlimited, a member organization in the broad hunting and angling coalition, Sportsmen for the Roan Plateau. While we applaud the governors recommendation to expand the so-called areas of critical environmental concern, we also see a missed opportunity to fully protect the fish and wildlife habitat on the Roan Plateau.

In a news conference today, Gov. Ritter announced that he is in continued discussions with the BLM, but that he would support drilling on top of the plateau. This development would include drilling along the tops of ridges, and its not clear the governor would actually oppose industrial incursion into the Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) he wants to expand, something of key concern to sportsmen. While the governor did say he was concerned about the impact drilling would have on wildlife habitat on the Roan, he supported a plan that would allow actual drilling and road construction in areas important to big game and in areas that could impact the plateaus fragile fisheries.

The governor did not follow the lead of U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, who has called for a one-year leasing moratorium on the Roan in order to ensure proper protection for fish and wildlife. Salazars proposal is also based on overwhelming public opposition to drilling on public land atop the Roan.

These areas that could be opened for drilling are the best of the best for fish and wildlife, said Matt Keena, a Western Slope sportsman and a member of the Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, another member of the sportsmens coalition. It isnt too much to ask our governor to support hunters and anglers who have asked the BLM to keep industry out of these areas. Were not asking for anything unreasonable, and we hope that in continued discussion, the governor will stand up for sportsmen and ensure the BLM does the right thing here. The BLM and the industry need to hear that drilling on top of the Roan is simply unacceptable.

Date: 12/20/2007