Twice now the BLM has nominated public lands in the North Fork Valley for auction at oil and gas lease sales, and twice, due to public outcry, they have rescinded those nominations. Clearly some serious discrepancy exists between the BLM's outdated Resource Management Plan (the document by which the BLM evaluates costs and benefits of leasing available resources) and the reality of what the North Fork has become in the time since that Resource Management Plan was completed.
The North Fork Valley is a unique and special place, and the public lands the BLM seems to consider feasible for oil and gas development are in fact part of the North Fork's cultural and economic fabric. These parcels surround towns, schools, farms and orchards, are the sources of our domestic and irrigation water, and include popular recreation areas and hunting lands, as well as key wildlife habitat. These public lands need better protection.
Fortunately, the BLM is in the process of creating a new, updated Resource Management Plan for the area, due out sometime this year. In order to help the BLM take into account the true value of all the North Fork Valley's resources as it assembles this new document, members of the North Fork community have proposed a plan specific to the North Fork Valley. Called The North Fork Alternative Plan for Oil and Gas Leasing and Development, it provides the BLM a framework for directing possible future oil and gas development — a framework designed to support the area's emerging economies, safeguard community and culture, and protect natural resources and wildlife. If the BLM wants to prevent future discrepancies between its guiding documents and, well, reality, it needs to incorporate the North Fork Alternative Plan for Oil and Gas Leasing and Development into its new Resource Management Plan.