Delta, Gunnison proposal offers a balance

By Jen Sanborn

Dear Editor:

Delta and Gunnison county are both on record stating that for an exchange of national forest oil and gas leases to go through, other important public lands in the area need to be removed from the possibility of future leasing to help ensure a balance of uses of public lands in the valley.

The industrialization that accompanies oil and gas drilling and fracking is a tough fit for our confined rural valley. But Delta and Gunnison counties have a real opportunity here. There are already over 70,000 acres of existing leases on national forest lands surrounding the exchange area and into the Muddy Creek drainage. The proposal to support the lease exchange only with the protection of many of the other, yet unleased public lands, as well as greater say over how development occurs where it does happen, offers a chance for communities to have more say over where and how this activity goes forward.

While less development is favorable, this proposal provides an opportunity to limit activity that is already nearly certain from spreading much further and to ensure that where it does occur, strong protections are in place under close community scrutiny.

So I want to THANK Delta and Gunnison counties for supporting our local communities and seeking to find a balance between oil and gas development on public lands with the many other resources and qualities for which these popular places are already favored and enjoyed. And I urge our congressional delegation to ignore the big money oil and gas lobby, and instead to listen to the people, communities and impacted residents of western Colorado.

Jen Sanborn