December Leases Sales Raise Wildlife Concerns

With the Department of Interior's current emphasis of energy dominance on our public lands it’s important for us as sportsmen to be paying close attention to where and how this development is taking place. A timely example of this is the upcoming BLM December lease sale here in Colorado. With 227 parcels totaling 236,010 acres across the state, many impacting priority habitat for sage grouse, elk, mule deer, bighorn, moose, and pronghorn - there is a lot at stake.

As sportsmen we know our wildlife has a significant cultural and economic value here in Colorado, we've invested a great deal of time and energy into their conservation, and we are keenly aware of the challenges they face. The future of our wildlife is strongly linked to wise land use decision making that protects critical habitat, mitigates impacts, and effectively balances the needs of stakeholders. All of this requires a willingness on the part of agencies and stakeholders to work together to get these decisions right. As sportsmen we have a vested interest in the conservation of critical habitat, we are powerful stakeholders, and we have an important seat at the table. When the BLM can avoid developing critical habitat we need to urge them to do so, and when this isn't possible we need to urge them to adopt stipulations that will effectively mitigate impacts. 

Thankfully Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has made a formal request to the Department of Interior, requesting that meaningful habitat conservation stipulations be put into place within critical big game winter range and migration corridors. This request also asked for a deferral of leases within priority core sage grouse habitat. Secretary Zinke’s order 3362 Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big-Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors was issued earlier this year to encourage the Interior Department and agencies to work with stakeholders in situations just like this.

Colorado BHA stands behind the Governor's request and asks the Interior Department to make meaningful adjustments to the proposed December lease sale to help ensure energy development can continue on our public lands in a way that maintains Colorado’s healthy fish and wildlife populations and rich hunting and fishing opportunities and we urge the Interior Department to honor this request.

 

About Brien Webster

Colorado and Wyoming Chapter Coordinator

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