The North Fork Alternative for the BLM's updated Resource Management Plan deserves the support of the Hotchkiss Town Council. The alternative, which deals only with lands with federally-owned minerals, is sound and represents the work of a fairly wide group of participants.
It can protect much of our farmland and rivers and streams from problems, including spills like happened near Parachute Creek.
Even if the BLM adopts the alternative, it's possible that drilling may occur on lands with BLM-administered minerals. But the most sensitive of these lands, along with much of the rivers, streams, coal mines, etc. would be spared. Also, somewhat protected would be the hard-won and compatible gains made by area growers, artists and artisans, and folks who work in town or in the mines.
I know many are concerned with regulating any industry that might benefit our area economically, and I understand those concerns. It's never been easy around here, and most of us have had to make a lot of trade-offs: We give up being able to afford health insurance so our kids can get established and we forgo eating out much so we can put some irrigation water in pipe, etc. But rolling out a red carpet for drilling in the valley isn't going to solve our problems. Unless you've got good gas or oil under your place and you own the minerals, you won't see much money from this industry. But you're still going to be affected by any problems the industry creates. There are businesses and individuals already doing work in the gas industry, and there's no reason to hold that against them, and I'm glad they and not just folks from outside the area have the work. But if gas or oil drilling goes big around here, especially if it includes a lot of lands in the lower valley, it's going to hurt us a lot more than help us, partly because most of the wealth that gets generated will leave along with the gas or oil.
I feel there are many reasons why we should support the North Folk Alternative. The Paonia Town Council does, and it's my hope that Hotchkiss Town Council will too.