The BLM has cancelled all 22 North Fork Valley parcels slated for leasing in the August 2012 sale. This is a wonderful and welcome development and is cause for celebration.
This result acknowledges that diligent efforts of concerned citizens can, even against stiff odds, bring about desired results. We have succeeded in holding values of community, sustainability, clean air and clean water above those of short-term profit and exploitation. We have shown that a group of citizens, united in purpose, can alter the outcome of what otherwise seems an inevitability. In these times, this is indeed a remarkable thing and the people of the North Fork Valley and Delta County are to be congratulated. Please bear in mind that while we've achieved a laudable result, we have earned but one chip in a profoundly larger game. It has been said that "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance." The North Fork is not yet free from ongoing efforts to drill for natural gas on these lands. While the government's move is very important, our area remains at risk as the BLM only removed the 30,000 acres from this August's lease sale. Upon additional analysis by BLM, these parcels can be sold at any of the future quarterly auctions the BLM holds each year. While it is great news that the risk is deferred, continuing attention to these issues will be required as we are not at all privy to the BLM's long-term plans for our area. We hope that this deferral at the very least portends plans to develop an Environmental Impact Statement for this group of parcels. Perhaps it suggests that they will never be listed again. Perhaps it hints at merging ideas for energy development in the North Fork into the larger BLM Resource Management Plan (RMP) due for release in 2013. This would be wise, as the BLM based the disputed August sale on an outdated RMP completed 23 years ago, well in advance of now broadly used irresponsible drilling technology as well as recent important and viable socio-economic changes in the valley, such as organic agriculture and viticulture. Let us celebrate our victory and savor the power of the citizenry to force bureaucracies to listen when the people's voices are loud, persistent, smart and well informed. However, we need to hold firm to our vigilance. The citizens groups that have worked to inform and organize will continue to do so. If and when it becomes vital to speak loudly and again to act, Citizens for a Healthy Community will make certain you are notified in a timely manner so you can participate in keeping the North Fork Valley of Delta County a sustainable and healthy place to farm, to ranch and to raise our families.
Mitchell Gershten MD Board Member
Citizens for a
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