RMP is a road map to industrializing the North Fork

By Nicole Carpenter

Dear Editor:

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) mission is "to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations." They recently released the draft Resource Management Plan (RMP), a 20- to 30-year blueprint for the course of future public land use. Their preferred alternative will industrialize the North Fork Valley (NFV) by leasing 95 percent of the planning area, which encompasses five counties including Delta County, for hydraulic fracturing of natural gas.

If this plan gets approved, it would completely change life as we know it in this area. The NFV has the greatest concentration of organic farms in Colorado, with vast agricultural, scenic, recreational and natural resources. To sacrifice all these things and sell the valley to oil and gas companies would be a crime. Over 700 spills from oil/gas development were reported across Colorado in 2014, which released over one million gallons of oil and toxic chemicals. Eleven percent of the spills contaminated water sources. Produced water can contain mineral salts, chemical additives, dissolved hydrocarbons, toxic metal ions, and radioactive materials. These substances have been proven to cause cancer, alter endocrine function, affect human reproduction, cause birth defects and impair cognitive development in children. Are we willing to sacrifice our water, our health, our children, our home? For what?

Natural gas production currently provides less than .01 percent of jobs in the planning area, and even if future development meets optimistic government projections, it still won't significantly benefit the local economy (Page 4-462). If there is no benefit to the communities affected, why would the BLM put our existing industries, including hunting, fishing, recreation, agriculture, ranching, wineries, tourism and the arts, at risk? Why is the BLM undermining its own mission, and proposing to destroy the health, diversity and productivity of our public lands? The draft RMP is lacking in many areas. There are excellent resources available to help people write letters at www.citizensforahealthycommunity.org under 'RMP Information.' I hope you will join me in pressuring the BLM to adopt a more sensible plan for the management of our public lands. Let's hold it responsible for upholding its mission.

Nicole Carpenter