INCOMING! Lease Sale Around Paonia Reservoir and Watersheds


On July 2, 2018 the Bureau of Land Management announced an oil and gas lease sale in the North Fork Valley. Of the nearly quarter-million acres offered in this sale across Colorado, nearly 8,000 are in the North Fork Valley in our watershed, around Paonia Reservoir, and over a coal mine.

The proposal to lease these parcels is irresponsible, unnecessary, and dangerous:

  1. North Fork Valley farms are the organic breadbasket of Colorado, offering a safety net to what are currently at risk or likely contaminated farms. Four of the top agricultural producing counties in the State are also four of the top natural gas-producing counties in the state. Delta County is the 5th largest agricultural producing county with 1250 farms.-
  2. The parcels around Paonia Reservoir are dangerously close to the dam. Canadian researchers have found that fracking results in induced seismicity and recommend a 3-mile buffer around sensitive infrastructure such as dams and reservoirs. These parcels are within that recommended buffer.
  3. Rural gas gathering pipelines are unregulated, and the BLM should impose a moratorium on oil and gas leasing and development until the safety of rural gas gathering pipelines can be independently monitored and inspected.
  4. They are in a geologically unstable area, which saw the largest landslide in Colorado history.


The deadline for Scoping Comments ended July 17, 2018. The next opportunity to comment on this lease will be when the Environmental Assessment (EA) is released for public comment. That is anticipated to be released August 27, 2018.

For all of these reasons stated above and more, these lease parcels should be withdrawn from the December 2018 lease sale. More importantly the BLM should consider the reasonable no-leasing alternative already demanded by 42,000 people in 2016; it’s the only way to guarantee that this irreplaceable corner of Colorado is not irreparably harmed.

Get informed on this lease sale, and get ready for the 15-day EA comment period, which is expected to be August 27-September 11, 2018.

The lease sale and associated BLM maps are available at

To help you better understand where these lease parcels are located in the North Fork Valley, how it relates to other projects, and what’s at stake see:

Fact Sheet: North Fork Valley December Lease Sale

Updated Interactive North Fork Valley Map with Lease Sale Parcels

Historical Landslides and North Fork Valley December 2018 Lease Sale Parcels

BLM Map of Lease Sale Parcels


This lease sale proposal is complex, with significant potential cumulative impacts on irrigation and drinking waters, geological stability, seismic activity, the local economy, roads, and more. If you were conducting this Environmental Assessment, what would you look at? What questions would you ask? If there is something specific you think we should look at in greater detail as we prepare to comment on this EA, please let us know at



Letter writing tips:

 Comment letter template

While the official comment period is now closed on scoping comments, and the official comment period has not yet opened on the draft EA, you should still feel free to voice your concerns with the Uncompahgre Field Office, the Southwest District, and the State Office. Just because these shortened official commenting periods appear to be designed to cut the public out of the process, doesn’t mean we have to let them cut the public out.

Please copy CHC on comments at:


Sign this open letter to Secretary Ryan Zinke