Kestrel College Program 2015

State: Colorado
Region: North Fork Valley

EcoFlight partnered with University of Colorado’s INVST Community Studies students during a tour of conventional and alternative energy production on public lands, agriculture, and communities working to make an impact through local, organic farming economies. Students met with conservationists, energy industry representatives and local farmers.

From the air, we saw the community of Paonia, and the healthy landscape that the local organic farming economy depends on. The contrast was evident between areas protected for clean water and wildlife habitat, and those which have been developed for coal and oil and gas.

The North Fork community has developed a set of management recommendations for the BLM for oil how it will manage oil and gas development for the next 20 years. The North Fork Alternative Plan recommends protections for resources in the North Fork area that contribute to the distinct quality of life there - water supplies, wildlife habitats, scenic views, recreation opportunities and the local economy. The plan will be considered as the BLM updates their Resource Management Plan.

Our flights also took us over the West Elk coal mine near the Sunset Roadless area, where the company wants to expand its mine. To mine safely, Arch Coal must drill wells above the coal seams to vent methane gas. The company's plans in the Sunset Roadless area call for 6 miles of road and 48 new well pads, which would emit millions of cubic feet of methane pollution each day.