January 4, 2010
The Focus of the report is northwest Colorado. Northwest Colorado presents a critical risk of further irreversible harm, but also offers opportunities for enlightened policies and practices that might well serve to stem the extent and magnitude of the damage while providing reasonable accommodation of desirable responsible energy development on public lands. The designation of sensitive wildlife habitat in the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's rules (as amended, December 11, 2008) are an example. Northwest Colorado is a difficult case for three reasons. First is the concentration of oil and gas leases on public lands. Second is the concentration of some of the finest remaining, but shrinking, diverse habitat on the planet, including big game. Third, the palpable and urgent tension between reasons one and two has led to practical challenges and conflicts that have yet to achieve equilibrium or long-term resolution. Our purpose is to provide to the public and to public officials the best baseline information that can be assembled and synthesized from available sources so that all of us have a clearer sense of the growing threat to Colroado's wildlife heritage and our important wildlife-dependent economic sector.
The report includes 14 maps and transparencies. Map 1 shows oil and gas potentialin Colorado and development. Maps 2 -14 of northwest Colorado are divided into three geographic areas for purposes of the report. Greater Piceance Basin, Little Snake Resource Area, and the Roan Plateau (eastern area of the Piceance Basin). The wildlife habitat maps depict mule deer, elk, greater sage grouse and native Colorado River cutthroat trout habitat. These species were selected among the richly diverse species found in northwest Colorado because they contribute significantly to define Colorado's wildlife resource and hunting and fishing heritage. Additional maps show gas leases, oil shale RD&D leases and roads.