U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet came to Delicious Orchards for a private meeting with stakeholders concerning removal of some of the lands in the North Fork Valley through federal legislation from any oil and gas development. The senator was on a working vacation with his family and spent approximately two hours in Paonia during the first week of July.
Sen. Bennet met with a select group that included Mayor Neal Schwieterman, Paonia trustee Eric Goold, Jeff Schwartz of Delicious Orchards, Jim Brett, Ty Gillespie, Pete Kolbenschlag, Brent Helleckson, Mark Shaffer of the Conservation District, Jim Ramey of Citizens For A Healthy Community, and Sarah Sauter and John Moore of The Conservation Center.
Ramey and Sauter both stated that a conversation is just beginning on whether there would be any way to have parts of the North Fork Valley included in legislation that Sen. Bennet is exploring, which would seek to keep the Thompson Divide area free of oil and gas development.
The Paonia Town Council voted four to one to send a letter to Sen. Bennet urging him to consider including Paonia and the mesas surrounding Paonia in his legislation.
Mayor Schwieterman said the letter needed to make it clear that the Town of Paonia was only talking about no oil and gas development and that the town was not including coal mining operations in this request.
In its letter, council asks that Sen. Bennet include additional land to protect key water sources, nearby critical wildlife habitat lands and hunting access, local landmarks, scenic areas, and recreational opportunities. It also lists specific areas including along Minnesota Creek, lands that provide a scenic backdrop for the town, mesas framing entrance into Paonia, the Mount Lamborn area, the flanks of the West Elk Mountains, Mt. Jumbo and lands around Paonia State Park.blog comments powered by Disqus