Keeping the Roan Plateau wild — Conservation Colorado

From Conservation Colorado (Scott Braden):

The Roan Plateau is one of my favorite places in Colorado; a Western Slope public lands treasure that is truly too wild to drill. But not too long ago, it narrowly escaped just that. In the mid-2000s, the BLM auctioned off tens of thousands of acres of this former naval shale reserve, which was a wilderness populated by herds of elk, genetically pure cutthroat trout, and a few in-the-know hunters and adventurers. Fortunately, people from across Colorado and the whole nation stood up and refused to see the Roan turned into an industrial park. Conservation groups sued the BLM on their faulty analysis of the environmental impacts of the leases. After a decade in the courts, the lawsuit to protect the Roan was settled last year in a way that would protect the top of the plateau, while allowing drilling (with stringent environmental safeguards) to move forward around its base. A win-win solution for all parties.

During the past five years, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to acquaint myself personally with the Roan Plateau – doing field work and tours of the area. I can attest to the sense of wild and free country, teeming with wildlife, that characterizes the top of the mesa. There are few other people up there, and although it is accessible to anyone with a two-wheeled drive vehicle (in dry conditions), it’s the kind of place you have to work to get to. The solitude is well beyond some of the formal wilderness areas in Colorado.

Now, the BLM has released a new draft version of the plan that will govern the Roan Plateau after the settlement. I am happy to report that the proposed alternative in the plan will, as the settlement stipulates, keep the top of the plateau free from industrial drilling and increase protections for the sides and base of the plateau. Right now, the BLM is seeking comment on the plan and hosting a series of open houses on the Western Slope. The meetings will be as follows:

Speak Up for the Roan Plateau: Silt
January 12, 2016
4:00 P.M.–7:00 P.M.
BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office
2300 River Frontage Road
Silt, CO 81652

Speak Up for the Roan Plateau: Battlement Mesa
January 13, 2016
4:00 P.M.–7:00 P.M.
Grand Valley Recreation Center
398 Arroyo Drive
Battlement Mesa, CO 81636

Speak Up for the Roan Plateau: Rifle
January 14, 2016
4:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M.
Rifle Branch Library
207 East Avenue
Rifle, CO 81650

YOU can help weigh in to protect the Roan. Make a comment today to tell the BLM to adopt their proposed alternative, and keep the Roan wild and free for the next generation!

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