The BLM’s Tres Rios office is looking at a Master Leasing Plan for western La Plata County and eastern Montezuma County. An MLP is a planning tool that lets both citizens, local governments, park managers and energy companies work to identify where and how responsible oil and gas development can take place, and where conflicts might exist - before leasing occurs. The BLM’s current management plan leaves more than 66,422 acres of its field office within the MLP area of discussion open to leasing, including lands within sight of Mesa Verde National Park.
The public input process has begun, and some lands have been identified as important areas that would conflict with oil and gas including Phil’s World mountain bike park, the Mesa Verde escarpment, productive agricultural lands and lands adjacent to Weber and Menefee Wilderness Study Areas.
There is also an opportunity to update safegaurds for the threatened Gunnison sage-grouse. Conservation groups are asking the BLM to designate Dry Creek Basin and Northdale as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs). This designation would protect 37,000 acres of the most important habitat for two small and incredibly vulnerable populations of Gunnison sage-grouse in southwest Colorado. The Gunnison sage-grouse once ranged widely across southwest Colorado and Utah. Today, however, there are fewer than 5,000 of these birds remaining. An MLP could identify and protect critical habitat and prioritize the recreation values and cultural resources that make these areas so special.
For more info about the MLP process and how to collaborate with others to help shape balanced solutions for Southwest Colorado, contact our partners at San Juan Citizens Alliance.
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