Roan: CWF Press Release Supporting State's Stance on Areas of Critical Env. Concern
December 21, 2007
Nov. 20, 2007
Contact: Suzanne O’Neill, CWF, (303) 919-3949
Bob Elderkin, Mule Deer (970) 948-2295
Nov. 20, 2007
CONSERVATION GROUPS SUPPORT STATE
IN CALLS TO PROTECT WILDLIFE HABITAT
Colorado wildlife conservation groups that have lead efforts to protect key wildlife habitat during energy development today leant support to the state’s call for continued work to protect wildlife and the Western Slope’s public lands.
“We applaud Governor Bill Ritter for emphasizing the critical importance of our wildlife habitat as a top priority during energy development and to underscore the importance of the Division of Wildlife’s recommendation to protect the areas of critical concern for wildlife on and around the Roan Plateau that it identified in 1999,” said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation.
“Our native wildlife species that are so critical to our Western heritage and sustainable economies will be the biggest losers if irresponsible energy development is allowed to occur in sensitive areas and if the latest proven technology is not required in other areas,” she said. “The full needs of wildlife and protection of key habitat must be factored in before development begins. Effective state and federal regulations based on the best available wildlife science must be in place and enforced if we are to maintain the basic values that define our state.”
The state’s comments came as part of Ritter’s response to federal plans announced earlier this year to allow drilling on and around the Roan Plateau. Bob Elderkin, a member of the Colorado Mule Deer Association’s Board of Directors, said it’s important that state and federal regulations require the energy industry to use the best available technology if the West’s natural resources are to be protected.
“Some of the leading energy companies have demonstrated that they have the know how to extract natural gas without devastating the land, water and wildlife,” said Elderkin, a former energy industry regulator with the Bureau of Land Management.
“We know energy development is going to take place and we support responsible drilling for natural gas,” Elderkin said. “But Coloradans expect that federal and state regulators require companies to use the best technology available. And wildlife officials need to be fully involved when plans for development are considered, not after drilling has already begun.”
Elderkin is one of the authors of Wildlife Guidelines for Oil and Gas Development that are the basis for House Bill 1298, the groundbreaking legislation designed to protect wildlife and all natural resources as development occurs. The legislation is a model for similar action in other states and at the federal level.
“We continue to support the Division of Wildlife’s 1999 recommendations on areas of critical environmental concern because of the need for reasonable protections for wildlife habitat throughout Roan Plateau Planning Area, including the Piceance Basin and other critical winter range that wildlife from Steamboat to the top of the plateau need to survive,” said O’Neill. “Most importantly, we need to emphasize the need for our state and federal regulators to require industry to fully coordinate with wildlife officials and to use the best technology to reduce the impacts of roads, pipelines and the number of drilling pads.”