South Park Master Leasing Plan

Sep 10, 2015

The National Wildlife Federation, Colorado Wildlife Federation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Park County officials worked with EcoFlight to fly reporters over South Park as part of the campaign to build support to conserve the area's rich water, wildlife, fish and recreation resources.


Our flights took us over the 1,000 square mile high-elevation basin of South Park, which contains more than 200 miles of streams and riparian habitat and the headwaters of the South Platte River. This world-class fishing and hunting destination is less than two hours' drive from the Denver metro area, which gets at least one third of its water from the basin. A 2008 state-commissioned study found that wildlife-based recreation contributed more than $17.8 million yearly to the local Park County economy.

The Bureau of Land Management is conducting a Master Leasing Plan (MLP) for South Park to address the impacts that oil and gas leasing would have on this special landscape of the West. The process allows for more public input and identifies areas where potential conflicts could arise between development, recreation and conservation, before leasing starts. Engaging stakeholders before leases are granted allows sensitive wildlife areas and recreation values to be identified and protected, while industry, in turn, can understand more about the future of their projects. The South Park MLP is being hailed as the new standard for Resource Management Plans, with its proactive planning, and will hopefully be used as a model for future planning processes.

On the first flight we also flew the London Mine Complex near Alma, where abandoned tailing ponds leak into South Mosquito Creek. Mosquito Creek flows into the Middle Fork of the Upper South Platte River, providing water for much of metro Denver. Potential contamination from leaking old and abandoned mines could affect the entire watershed, the health of wildlife in South Park and surrounding areas, and agriculture and industry.