Next month, the Bureau of Land Management is holding an oil and gas lease sale that would affect nearly 79,000 acres in Colorado. More than 15% of the proposed lease parcels are in Routt County.

The majority of the lands proposed for drilling overlap with greater sage grouse critical habitat, despite the fact that the BLM’s own relaxed and revised Greater Sage Grouse Management Plan instructs avoidance of sage grouse habitat. Additionally, thousands of acres proposed for drilling are in winter range and migration corridors for mule deer, elk and pronghorn. Other wildlife that could be affected include the bald eagle and native cutthroat trout.

Demonstrating further disregard for wildlife and wild places, several of the proposed lease parcels border the boundaries of the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in Jackson County. One large parcel in Routt County is in close proximity to the Fly Creek area, which contains lands listed as having potential wilderness characteristics.

Citizens can voice their concerns by mailing, hand delivering or faxing letters (no email accepted) to be received at the BLM state office no later than 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26. Mail or hand deliver your letter to the Colorado State BLM Office, 2850 Youngfield St., Lakewood, CO 80215 or fax your letter to 303-239-3799.

Per the BLM’s website, your letter, “must include a statement of reasons to support your protest” Your letter must also reference the “COC 5-digit serial number of the parcel being protested” and include your mailing address. To see wildlife conflicts by lease parcel number (including the required 5-digit parcel#) on Rocky Mountain Wild’s spreadsheet.

To view a map of the BLM’s proposed September 2019 lease sale and for links to the BLM’s website, go to Rocky Mountain Wild’s oil and gas lease sales page and scroll down to the map and links for the September Lease Sale.

You can also attend the Stand for Our Land Rally at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, on the front lawn of the Historic Routt County Courthouse. Bring a sign and let the BLM and visiting Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt know that Coloradans value our wildlife, open spaces and wild places.

Diane R. Miller

Steamboat Springs