January 25, 2013
Big Drilling Plans for the "Mule Deer Factory"
By Bob Marshall
Sportsmen have just a few days left to help stop the Bureau of Land Management from delivering yet another blow to mule deer, elk and sage grouse populations in western Colorado.
Monday marks the end of the public comment period on the BLM’s decision to select a new energy development plan for the 1.7 million-acre White River area near Meeker.
That area could see 15,500 new wells drilled under a management regime that would allow mule deer populations to be reduced by 30 percent below the long-term objectives set by Colorado’s Division of Wildlife.
Sportsmen know they can’t stop the drilling, but they are urging anyone who values fish and wildlife to urge the BLM to select “Alternative B,” which would allow only 5,500 new wells and reduce muley population goals by just 10 percent.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has an online petition that enables sportsmen to accomplish that important goal with one click.
It’s a shame that any new drilling will be allowed in the area that has a hallowed place in western backcountry fishing and big game hunting.
“At one time this area was known as ‘The Mule Deer Factory,’ but the population has been declining since drilling began here several decades ago,” said Nick Payne, Colorado Field Representative for the TRCP. “And it also contains the Unit 10 elk area, which is one of the most sought after in the state, because it produces so many elk and so many quality elk.
“The kind of intensive development we’re talking about won’t be good news for the hunting and fishing tradition that is such a rich part of the heritage of the area and the state.”