On November 21, 2014, the Sierra Club and its allies -- along with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet -- announced a landmark settlement agreement that will help protect the Roan Plateau in western Colorado.
Rising 3,000 feet above the Colorado River, the Roan Plateau is a land of forests, cliffs, and deep canyons that is home to peregrine falcons, black bears, mountain lions, elk, and a variety of other wildlife. The plateau, which contains at least 19,000 acres of wilderness-quality lands, is known for its outstanding angling, hunting, and backcountry recreational opportunities.
In 2008, the Sierra Club and its allies filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) decision to allow oil and gas drilling on public lands on the entire plateau. In 2012, a federal court in Denver set aside the BLM plan.
Under the terms of the settlement, the BLM will cancel 16 of the 18 oil and gas leases on the ecologically sensitive top of the Roan Plateau. In addition, the BLM will consider a management plan alternative that would allow for some limited development on the remaining leases, precludes new leasing on top of plateau for the life of the plan, and conserves important big game habitat at the base of the Roan. For more information, a fact sheet and Q&A on the settlement can be found here.
"We're pleased to see this settlement reached, which will protect some of the last, best remaining portions on top of the Roan Plateau as well as take important steps for keeping dirty fuels in the ground," said Mark Stevens, co-chair of Sierra Club's Rocky Mountain Chapter. "The Roan Plateau, with its critical habitat for rare plants, mule deer, and genetically pure cutthroat trout, is a special place for Coloradans. This settlement will reduce oil and gas drilling and give wildlife critical space to prosper."
The plaintiff groups were represented by Earthjustice and Western Resource Advocates.
More media on this topic here.