The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) revises its Uncompahgre Resource Management Plan (RMP) only once every 20 or 30 years. It is doing so this year, right now, making this a unique opportunity for the North Fork Valley community to influence future RMP content.
The RMP is a sort of master land use plan that will guide the BLM in its management of public lands for decades to come and provide a framework for future decision making about oil and gas development in our region.
If you share my concerns (and those of my family and neighbors) about the potential effects of oil and gas development on our valley, I urge you to support the North Fork Alternative. The alternative proposes ways to strengthen the provisions of the revised RMP. Among other things, the alternative delineates six key management zones in the valley and proposes stringent setback distances for future development in each zone. It is the intention of the local organizations that sponsor the alternative to submit it to the BLM after the draft RMP gets released later this year, during the comment period.
Recent events over the past year have made clear that BLM decision-makers do not live in our area, do not care about the same things we do, and do not share our vision for the future of the North Fork Valley. The rules and regulations are fixed in such a way that neither the oil and gas industry nor the BLM has to prove that oil and gas development is safe or prudent. In fact, drilling operations are exempt from key provisions of at least seven of the 15 major federal laws enacted to protect the environment (NY Times, 3/3/2011). Nor is the BLM obligated to show that such development in the valley is in the public interest.
The game is unfairly rigged in favor of the extractive industries, leaving it up to our community to make its voice heard in order to preserve our current way of life free from disruptive traffic, noise, pollution and industrial blight. We all stand to benefit from a strengthened RMP that better protects our community, therefore I believe that it is in our best interest as a community to unify in support of the North Fork Alternative.