Please check the box below if you agree to the following comments. A check in the box is required in order to submit the form to the BLM.
Dear Acting UFO Manager Edd Franz, Southwest District Manager Stephanie Connolly, and BLM State Director Doug Vilsack, I am writing to you today regarding scoping comments for the Uncompahgre Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA). For over a decade the North Fork Valley has been resolute in preventing expanded oil and gas leasing and development. We fought back the 2012, 2013 and 2018 lease sales. We protested the 2020 RMP and are pleased to see this amendment process underway. I implore you to do everything within BLM’s power to fully protect the North Fork Valley and Grand Mesa Watershed. This is your opportunity to correct the misguided decision with respect to opening the majority of the Uncompahgre Field Office (UFO) planning area to oil and gas leasing. It is also your opportunity and responsibility to consider new information, including the state of ecological and water stress, local warming, and the best science. The 2020 RMP was initiated in 2010. Now, fourteen years later, much has changed. Organic and sustainable agriculture, agritourism and recreation have grown significantly. At the same time, our water resources, soils, wildlife and ecosystems are under greater stress. The UFO planning area has seen some of the most extreme warming in the State of Colorado, averaging 1.9 degrees Celsius (3.4°F). We are already seeing the effects of this unprecedented level of warming including extreme drought, intensified wildfire, collapsed roads, aridification, loss of wildlife habitat, earlier runoff and massive flooding. The connection between oil and gas emissions and climate change is irrefutable. Closing all minerals in the UFO planning area, including those underlying US Forest and private lands, and designating more areas of environmental concern and lands with wilderness characteristics are all critical to fully protecting Delta County, the North Fork Valley and the Grand Mesa watersheds, landscapes, unparalleled recreation, treasured wildlife and biodiversity, and critical water resources. These management actions are not only climate solutions, they are common sense and imperative for ensuring the resiliency of the valued water, ecological, and wildlife resources we all rely on for present and future generations. The Forest Service recognizes the importance of withdrawing minerals from oil and gas leasing in the Thompson Divide to protect high-value ecological resources. There is simply no compelling public interest to open up more critical headwaters areas and public lands to additional oil and gas leasing and development. There is, in fact, a most compelling need not to do so. It’s time for the BLM to amend the RMP in a manner that prevents the permanent impairment, and undue and unnecessary degradation of its lands by closing off all oil and gas minerals, including the high development potential underlying US Forest lands, to new leasing. Sincerely,