Tell the BLM it’s time to protect our lands & combat climate change



Urge the BLM to protect our public lands - Western CO Oil & Gas Plan 


Deadline: November 1, 2023



In response to two lawsuits filed by conservation groups, the BLM is developing a new management plan for Western Colorado that will determine how 2 million acres of public lands and minerals will be managed for decades to come. The BLM is considering multiple proposals. Alternative F is the strongest proposal in terms of protecting more of our lands from fossil fuel extraction. Alternative F would:

  • Close 95% of the planning area to oil and gas development, including Wild and Scenic river segments, important wildlife and habitat areas, areas of tribal significance, lands with wilderness characteristics, community water sources, designated recreation management areas, and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. 
  • Close lands whose potential yield for oil and gas are designated as no, low, or medium yield. (Lands that are already being leased and that are designated as high-yield potential would remain open to fossil fuel development.)
  • Protect a 3,900 acres expansion to the Castle Peak Wilderness Study Area (WSA) in Eagle County, the first WSA designation proposed since 2003.

How to submit comments

You can submit your comments by going to the following page and clicking on the green “Participate now” button on the left side of the page:   

This link will take you directly to a page on the BLM website titled, "Colorado River Valley Field Office and Grand Junction Field Office Supplemental EIS." The Supplemental EIS refers to the additional Environmental Impact Study that the BLM was required to do in order to address the recreational, ecological and cultural value of these lands. 


Tips for Writing an Effective Public Comment

  1. Speak to your personal experience and connection on the landscape or issue
  2. Lay out all of the things you believe need to be considered by the BLM in making a decision and why (i.e. impacts of oil and development to climate, water, wildlife, etc.)
  3. Name specific places that you would like to see protected from oil and gas. Be sure to provide as much information as you can about known uses of the area, ecological values like plants and wildlife, and your personal experience on the land.
  4. Provide any reputable resources you have available, such as scientific studies, recent articles and research papers.              


Comments to BLM will be much more impactful if they include one or more of the following points:


  • Climate. Climate science shows us more and more that the crisis is worsening, and the BLM needs to do more to reduce emissions from public lands by closing more lands off to oil and gas development and planning for climate adaptation. While the new alternatives in the draft consider closing substantial additional acreage to oil and gas leasing, the BLM should have considered a “no leasing alternative” to truly respond to the gravity of the climate crisis. However, Alternative F is a step in the right direction. 

  • Water. The BLM needs to stop leasing lands that are adjacent to or in close proximity to water resources that nearby communities, agricultural producers, and wildlife all rely on. Oil and gas development near water poses a big threat, as it can result in surface water contamination and other impacts. Alternative F provides the strongest protections for community water sources in addition to eligible Wild and Scenic River segments.

  • Wildlife. Our local BLM lands are home to an abundance of wildlife species and provide critical habitat and winter range for species like mule deer and elk. They are also home to threatened species like the greater sage grouse. Oil and gas development can cause harmful impacts to wildlife like habitat loss and fragmentation. Alternative F helps mitigate these impacts by closing important bighorn sheep and native trout habitat to oil and gas development in addition to Wildlife Emphasis Areas and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern–public lands that have documented resources such as rare and endangered species.

  • Conservation. The BLM identifies public lands that have wilderness qualities, and calls them “lands with wilderness characteristics.” These wild public lands provide backcountry recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, clean air and water, and many other natural and ecological values that are incompatible with oil and gas development. Alternative F would close all inventoried lands with wilderness characteristics to new leasing, protecting some of the highest value conservation lands in the planning area. Additionally, Alternative F includes an expansion to the Castle Peak Wilderness Study Area in Eagle County. Wilderness Study Areas are the BLM’s most durable and protective administrative tool for the management of wildlands.

  • Recreation. Both field offices are home to several Recreation Management Areas that provide a variety of recreation opportunities, such as mountain biking, hiking, climbing, fishing, boating and camping. These recreation experiences are treasured by local residents, and help sustain our rural economies. Oil and gas drilling is damaging to quality recreation experiences, and should be kept away from popular recreation areas. Alternative F would most effectively protect recreational zones by closing all Recreation Management Areas in the planning area to oil and gas development.


Affected Landscapes

It is very helpful to mention specific landscapes, especially places that you have spent time in. Include descriptions of the experience, values, natural features, and uses of the area, and explain why oil and gas development is incompatible with your experiences in these landscapes.  Here are some examples of the locally treasured public lands to advocate for protection from oil and gas development in your comment:


  • Upper Colorado and Roaring Fork Valleys: The public lands surrounding the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers above their confluence in Glenwood Springs are highly valued recreation areas in western Colorado. The Roaring Fork Valley’s BLM-managed public lands include locals’ favorites such as the Crown, Prince Creek, Red Hill, and Thompson Creek – popular spots for mountain biking, hiking, and climbing right out the backdoor of valley communities. The Colorado River corridor from State Bridge to Glenwood Canyon is also surrounded by BLM-managed public lands that attract recreation visitors for boating, mountain biking, and hiking at the scenic foot of the Flat Tops Wilderness. Despite managing many of these areas for recreation purposes, the BLM left them largely open to oil and gas leasing in their 2015 management plans. 


  • Dolores River: The Lower Dolores River is a collection of deep sandstone canyons, vibrant riparian corridors, and sprawling un-roaded wildlands surrounding the Dolores River between Roc Creek, Gateway, and the Utah state line. Petroglyphs, pictographs, and other culturally important sites are found throughout the river corridor.  Several of the river’s tributaries act as important transportation corridors with game trails leading up into the forested highlands of the Uncompahgre Plateau and La Sal Mountains. Much of the Lower Dolores is open to oil and gas leasing and development, despite the immense values that would be put at risk by development and the area’s low potential for fluid mineral resources.


  • Grand Hogback: The Grand Hogback is an immediately recognizable feature to travelers on the I-70 corridor, a unique landscape of flatirons and fins cascading from a central monocline. According to the BLM, the Hogback contains one of the largest Ute habitation (wickiup) sites in Colorado. In addition to wilderness-quality public lands, cultural and historic resources, and year-round wildlife habitat, a popular mountain biking trail network is being developed with easy access from Rifle. The BLM decided against managing the Grand Hogback to protect its wilderness-quality lands and  associated values due to the presence of non-producing oil and gas leases.  Almost all of the leases in the Grand Hogback expired without ever going into production, and the BLM has a chance with this new plan to make a smarter management decision and prioritize other public lands resources over oil and gas speculation.


  • Grand Junction Book Cliffs: The dramatic backdrop for more than 150,000 people who call the Grand Valley home, the Book Cliffs not only provide incredible recreation opportunities, but are home to important wildlife habitat and wilderness-quality lands. From the world-famous biking trails of the North Fruita Desert, to the quiet solitude of Hunter Canyon and Lipan Wash. BLM must end the speculative leasing in these important areas adjacent to the communities of the Grand Valley and ensure that the area remains not just a scenic backdrop, but a home to important wildlife habitats and recreation opportunities.


Additional Resources:

Garfield County Democratic Party
PO Box 2637
Glenwood Springs, CO 81602

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