June 22, 2019
BLM has issued its draft Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan, opening the public comment period. This draft plan includes public lands it manages in iconic South Park. The South Park preferred alternative largely is consistent with the recommendations developed through hard work since 2015 by CWF, NWF, Park County, water providers and other diverse interests. CWF had applied for special attention to South Park within the eastern Colorado planning area back in 2011. Our objective has been to safeguard wildlife habitats and waters managed by BLM there. We are gratified that the collaborative effort over these many years has been largely recognized in this draft plan. The South Park portion of the draft plan illustrates how the local commiunity and an array of interests can work effectively with BLM to ensure impacts to unfragmented vital wildlife habitats and streams, lakes, and reservoirs will be minimized if future oil and gas development occurs.
For example, the preferred alternative would prohibit surface occupancy within 2,642 feet of Gold Medal streams, rivers and full reservoirs and within 1,312 feet of the South Platte River. It recognizes the need to protect a significant portion of drinking water supplies for Denver and Aurora originating in South Park with reasonable setbacks and by prohibiting surface occupancy within 5 miles upstream of public water supply system infrastructure. Surface occupancy for future oil and gas development would be prohibited in the BLM area of Reinecker Ridge, which is vital undisturbed big game habitat and within one-quarter mile of state and local government-managed wildlife areas, parks and conservation easements. We would prefer, as stated in a different alternative, that any oil and gas development be phased i so that a maximum of 40 acres or 5 percent of acreage may be disturbed at one time, rather than 80 acres specified in the preferred alternative.
For information on the draft plan and public comment period, here is the link. CWF is preparing our comments and will post on the website in July. PLease make your comments on the BLM website - comment period closes September 20. Call or email us if you wish to discuss.