Our way of life defends on oil, gas rules that protect wildlife — Leroy Garcia

Christmas Elk via the Middle Colorado Watershed Council December 2013

Here’s a guest column from Leroy Garcia that’s running in The Pueblo Chieftain:

Just 1 percent of Colorado’s landscape borders rivers and streams, yet these areas support 80% of all wildlife habitats. Big game like elk and deer pass down migration routes for generations. Oil and gas developments that happen too close to rivers, streams or within these historic migration corridors, could sacrifice the health of our waterways and disrupt the sustainability of big game in Colorado.

Why does this matter to a sportsman like myself? It is simple: hunting is about tradition. Most hunters I know have learned about the sport from a loved one. Things like field dressing techniques, safety protocols, and recipes have been shared through generations. But if we don’t protect our land, water and wildlife, it’s not just family tradition that will suffer — many Colorado communities will have to find new ways to compensate for the loss of revenue that the hunting community provides.

For families, small businesses and rural communities, navigating the world as it rapidly changes is no small task. Now more than ever, we need to support cultural traditions and invest in the long term economic health of rural towns across Colorado.

As we look to the future, it is imperative that the COGCC adopt development buffers that bravely defend wildlife and the ecosystems that support them. Only then can we protect local sporting communities, the rural towns they call home, and the Colorado way of life that makes us all say “there’s no place else I’d rather be.”

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