In the wake of District Judge Marcia Krieger’s ruling last week that the Bureau of Land Management didn’t adequately analyze impacts to the Roan Plateau’s environmental assets before leasing the plateau for natural gas drilling, sportsmen now hope to seek balanced solution to drilling the Roan that protects irreplaceable fish and game resources.
“We’ve worked for 15 years restoring trout habitat on the Roan Plateau,” said David Nickum, executive director for Colorado Trout Unlimited. “While the ruling supports our claims that the Roan was leased prematurely, what it really gives us is a second chance to make sure drilling is done right.”
TU is not opposed to industry accessing natural gas under the Roan Plateau, but the BLM’s plans to allow drilling atop the Roan on public lands would put unique populations of native Colorado River cutthroat trout in peril, and tarnish high-quality mule deer and elk habitat. TU and its sportsmen partners have always favored the use of directional drilling on the Roan, which would limit surface occupancy and protect habitat vital to fish and game, as well as the opportunity to hunt and fish on the Roan.
“We think there is a way to get at the Roan’s natural gas without reducing fish and game habitat and hunting and angling opportunity on public lands, and we’re ready to work to make that happen,” Nickum said.
In addition to its involvement with the Roan lawsuit, Colorado Trout Unlimited and its Grand Valley Anglers chapter have partnered with the BLM for more than a decade conducting on-the-ground projects to protect and restore riparian and stream habitat atop the Roan Plateau. Later this summer, TU volunteers will work in coordination with BLM to conduct further stream improvements along Trapper Creek.
“We’re excited by the opportunity to work with BLM to improve habitat on the Roan,” Nickum said. “Working together, we can make one of Colorado’s best wild places even better.”
Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization with more than 147,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and on Twitter @TroutUnlimited.