We, in the North Fork Valley know why it is so important to protect our organic and sustainable farms, orchards, vineyards, and grazing grounds from the impacts of oil and gas development. Protecting the North Fork Valley from irreparable harm is not just about us, but about everyone who depends on us for safe, healthy food. We have been spreading this message far and wide, and the 42,000 no-leasing comments submitted to the BLM on its draft Resource Management Plan from around the state and country are a testament to that.

What better way to tell a story of how we are all connected, and why it is so important to protect prime and unique agricultural lands than through a map. We know that the energy industry’s quest for energy independence through natural gas production and its plan to industrialize the North Fork Valley depend on its ability to drill on public lands and extract public minerals.


This is why Citizens for a Healthy Community and FracTracker Alliance have paired up to create and share the interactive Food and Shale Production Map. The map highlights the overlap of food infrastructure and modern-day oil and gas extraction in the United States. For the first time, we can show the impact that the quest for energy independence through natural gas production and hydraulic fracturing may have on our food supply from the county level to nationwide. This map is designed to raise awareness on how the shale gas boom is potentially polluting prime farmland and compromising the nation’s food security and independence.


According to this map, an alarmingly high 93% of all US farms and 50% of all US agricultural production, both organic and conventional, is located in natural gas shale plays and shale basins. This is concerning due to the severe health risks associated with oil and gas spills, and the current administration’s goal of slashing environmental regulations. Currently, there are an average of 1.4 spills per day in Colorado, with 12% of which result in water supply contamination.

There are four major reasons why the oil and gas industry cannot be trusted with our food supply:

  • Rural gas gathering lines that bring gas from the wellhead to transmission lines are exempt from federal pipeline safety regulations.
  • According to recent studies, spills occur frequently, and chemicals from fracking fluids and produced waste water can comingle and accumulate in the soil, potentially resulting in absorption by plant life.
  • There are severe health consequences related to oil and gas chemicals, the five most common impacts being: respiratory, nervous system, birth defects and reproductive problems, blood disorders, and cancer.
  • Due to a wide array of exemptions from federal environmental regulations, oil and gas operators are essentially permitted to contaminate water supplies with the chemicals from their operations.

Many of the nation’s farms are surrounded by public lands – especially in the West, much like the farms in the North Fork Valley and Delta County. Opening up public lands, which surround prime farmland, to oil and gas leasing has far-reaching potential unintended consequences. FracTracker and Citizens for a Healthy Community paired up to develop and share this map to help communities and policymakers make better decisions about food safety and oil and gas development, and to help the public understand what is at risk as those decisions are being made. We know that the North Fork Valley plays a vital role in Colorado’s food security and independence. This map will give other regions a powerful tool to follow the North Fork Valley’s example.


Click here for complete article and to interact with the map at FracTracker Alliance.