Southwest Colorado is known around the world as the home of Mesa Verde National Park. But the park is just the centerpiece of a much broader landscape of public and private lands whose farms, ranches, big game herds and mountain bike trails support many local businesses and generate millions for the local economy each year. That’s why, when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently asked the public to comment on future oil and gas development in the area, over 120 local businesses, residents and stakeholders called on the BLM to prepare a new plan that better balances development with their lifestyles and livelihoods (compared to just 4 commenters who thought such a plan was not needed).
Supporters of a new, balanced plan (known as a “master leasing plan” (MLP)) include local governments like the City of Cortez and La Plata County, as well as business leaders like Osprey Packs, highlighting the region’s diverse economy as a reason why many businesses locate to the area and attract talented, new employees. [see below for list of additional supporters of a master leasing plan]
Although BLM recently completed a new management plan for the area, it has come under fire from all sides for not adequately protecting local agriculture, Mesa Verde National Park, popular recreation areas and important cultural resources. The conservative Montezuma County commission even went as far as to call on the BLM to amend the current plan to protect the popular Phil’s World mountain bike trail system from oil and gas development.
The public has spoken, and the numbers show that they overwhelmingly support pursuing an MLP to address the short-comings of the current plan. Colorado BLM has actually been a leader in implementing this cutting-edge planning tool. MLPs are already in place for the scenic lands just south of Dinosaur National Monument, the popular mountain bike trails of the North Fruita Desert near Grand Junction, and the important wildlife habitat area of North Park. Another plan is well underway for the South Park area, an important watershed for the Denver metro area.
Colorado BLM has already demonstrated that they know how to implement MLPs around the state. It’s time they heed the overwhelming local support for balance and move forward with a balanced plan for Southwest Colorado.
Local Governments, organizations and businesses supporting the creation of a Tres Rios Master Leasing Plan