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Saving the Sagebrush Sea: An Imperiled Western Legacy

Nearly 350 plant and animal species depend on sagebrush habitat for their survival.


Colorado News

NWF welcomes approval of bill to conserve a Colorado natural treasure

DENVER (Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014) – A U.S.  Senate committee has approved a bill that would protect more than 100,000 acres in southwest Colorado’s Hermosa Creek watershed, one of the state’s most spectacular scenic areas and a favorite of hunters, anglers and recreationists.

John Gale, the National Wildlife Federation’s sportsmen’s campaign manager said Thursday that S. 841, the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act, represents years of works from the ground up on a plan that will ensure the area in the San Juan National Forest will be conserved for generations to come.

“Hermosa Creek and its wild backcountry lands are special places that haunt the dreams of hunters and anglers and represent the best of our nation’s outdoor heritage. On behalf of our sons and daughters and others who will follow us on the trail, we urge Congress to swiftly pass this thoughtful legislation,” Gale said.

The bill has bipartisan support among Colorado’s congressional delegation. Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Scott Tipton are sponsors and Sen. Mark Udall has testified in favor of the legislation.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the bill, which would set aside 37,000 acres as wilderness and 70,000 acres as a special management area.  Current activities in the area, such as grazing, mountain biking and selected logging, would continue.


The National Wildlife Federationis America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wildlife, sportsmen’s groups note work on grouse conservation.

Photo: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

DENVER (Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014) –  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to designate the Gunnison sage-grouse as a threatened rather than endangered species is a testament to the conservation work by landowners, land managers, biologists and other stakeholders. Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director, said:

“We commend all the work by landowners, community members and local, state and federal agencies to conserve the Gunnison sage-grouse and its habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the bird as threatened provides on-the-ground flexibility while stemming further losses. We have the opportunity to learn from the Gunnison sage-grouse and act now to protect greater sage-grouse. The greater sage-grouse is still found on about 56 percent of its historic range across 11 Western states. The majority of its habitat is on public lands. That means the Bureau of Land Management, states, private landowners, local governments, sportsmen and other stakeholders need to cooperate to come up with sound, science-based conservation plans so we can get the bird back on firm ground and avoid having to list it.”

Suzanne O’Neill, Colorado Wildlife Federation executive director, said:

"The greater sage-grouse poses different biological considerations from the Gunnison sage grouse and we are hopeful that by working collaboratively, the state, Bureau of Land Management, private landowners and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be able to conserve the greater sage-grouse and avoid the need to add it to the Endangered Species List.”


Contact: Judith Kohler, National Wildlife Federation, 720-315-0855 (m), kohlerj@nwf.org

The National Wildlife Federationis America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

The Colorado Wildlife Federationhas been conserving Colorado’s wildlife and its habitat through education and advocacy since 1953.










Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A fresh review of drilling the Roan Plateau

In 2008, the Bureau of Land Management disregarded the views of many Coloradans and opened up more than 55,000 acres of the Roan Plateau on the Western Slope to drilling.

Reacting to the lease plan at the time, Gov. Bill Ritter called it a "sad day" for Colorado. "It's a missed opportunity — one we will never get back," he said.

As the adage goes, never say never.

The Associated Press reported last week the BLM will perform a new environmental analysis on drilling on the plateau. That move, which comes after a judge ruled last summer that the agency failed to follow proper protocol the first time around, could result in a range of new options for drilling — including re-opening the lease sale or an outright drilling ban.

Read full text: Denver Post

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gary Wockner: Don't Frack Denver's Water!

What has separated the fracking wars in the Eastern U.S. from the Western U.S. is that New York City's and Pittsburgh's watershed -- the place where these cities get their drinking water -- is proposed to be fracked. As you can expect, when millions of people learn that potentially cancer-causing chemicals are going to be injected into the ground near their drinking water, they get very riled up.

Conversely in Colorado, fracking has mostly occurred on the plains and near the suburbs, whereas Denver's watershed is upstream in the mountains.

Until now.

Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management proposed to lease publicly owned land in Park County, Colorado for drilling and fracking. Park County is the headwaters of the South Platte River, upstream of Denver, and the location of multiple large reservoirs for Denver and Aurora, Colorado's drinking water, serving over two million people for Denver and Aurora combined.

Read full text: Denver Post


Thursday, December 13, 2012

BLM extends comment deadline on White River oil and gas plan

November, 20 2012
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

MEEKER, Colorado — The Bureau of Land Management has extended the public comment deadline for its draft White River Field Office Oil and Gas Resource Management Plan Amendment an additional 45 days, to Jan. 28, 2013.

In August, the BLM released for public review and comment a draft plan outlining multiple alternatives for managing the expected increase in oil and natural gas development on the 1.7 million acres of federal mineral resources it manages on the Piceance Basin in Rio Blanco County, southern Moffat County, and a small part of northern Garfield County.

Read full text: Glenwood Post Independent

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Presidential Proclamation -- Establishment of the Chimney Rock National Monument

The Chimney Rock site in southwestern Colorado incorporates spiritual, historic, and scientific resources of great value and significance.  A thousand years ago, the vast Chaco civilization was drawn to the site's soaring massive rock pinnacles, Chimney Rock and Companion Rock, that rise hundreds of feet from the valley floor to an elevation of 7,600 feet.  High atop ancient sandstone formations, Ancestral Pueblo People built exquisite stone buildings, including the highest ceremonial "great house" in the Southwest.

Read full text: The White House

Friday, September 21, 2012

Feds prepare to open South Park for drilling near metro water source

FAIRPLAY — The federal Bureau of Land Management is preparing to open South Park — metro Denver's main water source — to oil and gas drilling.

But Aurora Water, local authorities and conservationists are pushing back, demanding careful planning before any land is leased.

Read full text: The Denver Post

Monday, August 27, 2012

Colorado wildfire: Pre-evacuation area for Waldo Canyon Fire increased

COLORADO SPRINGS — The pre-evacuation area for the Waldo Canyon Fire burning near Manitou Springs was expanded Tuesday afternoon for some areas near Woodland Park.

Teller County officials warned residents east of U.S. 24 and north o the El Paso/Teller County line to be prepared to leave.

Fire officials said Tuesday morning the Waldo Canyon Fire is now estimated to be 5,168 acres with 5 percent containment.

Read full text: The Denver Post

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fishing closure implemented in Steamboat Springs

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - Extremely low flows and rising water temperatures have prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials to implement a voluntary closure to all fishing in the Steamboat Springs section of the Yampa River. The closure will be in effect from the upstream boundary of the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area downstream through the city limits of Steamboat Springs, and anglers are asked to avoid this area.

Minimal spring snowmelt and lack of significant rain so far this year has led to very low flows and high water temperatures for many rivers and streams throughout the state. In Steamboat Springs, wildlife managers observed Yampa River water temperatures at 71 degrees on June 20 and the current flow of 81 cubic feet per second is well below the minimum 85 cfs established to trigger the voluntary closure.

In these conditions, already severely stressed fish weakened by warm waters often die when caught, even if they are quickly released back into the water.

"There appears to be little chance of precipitation adding measureable volume to the stream flow in the immediate future," said Senior Aquatic Biologist Sherman Hebein. "In this section of the Yampa River, median historical flows for this date are slightly over 1400 cfs, and the most current reading is well below that rate."

Read full text: Colorado Division of Wildlife

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Colorado wildfire: Federal firefighters due to help at High Park fire

LAPORTE —  Federal firefighters are on their way to help battle the wildly unpredictable High Park fire west of Fort Collins that has forced hundreds of evacuations and destroyed at least 18 structures.

The U.S. Forest Service says a federal team will take over management of the fire today.

Authorities say it's the worst fire seen in Larimer County in about 25 years. Flames were coming dangerously close to deputies who were telling some residents to evacuate.

The fire grew to 20,000 acres Sunday, stoking worries that its power will only grow

Read full text: The Denver Post

Monday, June 11, 2012

ProgressNow, others ask Obama to protect Colorado lands

DENVER – ProgressNow Colorado and allies in the Monumental West campaign today presented President Barack Obama’s campaign field office in Denver with hundreds of Colorado signatures to a letter requesting he support the protection of Browns Canyon and Chimney Rock.

“Coloradans value these areas as economic drivers for the region and also sacred areas to explore nature and archaeology and to preserve for future generations,” said state Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Niwot. “In Colorado, more than 107,000 jobs depend on public lands and 97 percent of Coloradans believe public lands are essential to our way of life.”

Read full text: The Colorado Independent

Friday, June 1, 2012

Judge Reviewing BLM Roan Plateau Decision

DENVER (AP) – A judge is considering whether the federal government followed environmental regulations when deciding to allow drilling for natural gas on Colorado’s Roan Plateau.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger heard arguments Tuesday in Denver in a lawsuit that dates back to 2008. She said she would rule as soon as possible.

Lawyers argued for about two hours over whether the Bureau of Land Management considered alternative sites and methods, and if it adequately assessed environmental impacts of a plan that projects up to 1,570 wells on the plateau on more than 73,000 acres of federal and private land.

Read full text: CBS Denver

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Colorado court rules against Wyoming gas pipeline

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that a Wyoming pipeline company has no right to condemn property in Colorado for a high-pressure petroleum pipeline to a Commerce City refinery that homeowners complained would be too dangerous.

In a ruling handed down Monday, the court said the Colorado Legislature did not intend to include oil and gasoline pipelines in laws that allowed railroads and utilities to take the property they needed for their services.

Read full text: The Wyoming Trib

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

BLM Halts Oil and Gas Leasing Plan for Colorado's North Fork Valley

The federal Bureau of Land Management said Wednesday that it will defer the controversial sale of 30,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Colorado's North Fork Valley.

The proposed sale at an auction set for August sparked protests in the Delta County valley , which has growing activity in organic farming and winemaking.

The bureau conducted an environmental assessment of the proposed sale, which noted there could be some adverse impacts to other economic activities, such as farming and recreation.

Read full text: Denver Post

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Vail Resorts joins push by Udall, Polis for new wilderness designations in Colorado

A congressional push to expand wilderness and special management designations in the White River National Forest received the endorsement of a major stakeholder in the region: Vail Resorts.

The ski resort juggernaut announced late last week that it has teamed with the Colorado Environmental Coalition and other groups in supporting U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, who are seeking better protection and management of up to 175,000 acres of ecologically important lands in Eagle and Summit counties, where Vail Resorts operates.

“Business support for this initiative will be critical to its success. Coloradans have long understood the link between a healthy environment and a healthy economy,” Elise Jones, executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition, said in a prepared statement.

Read full text: The Colorado Independent

Monday, April 30, 2012

Oil field housing factory opens southeast of Loveland

JOHNSTOWN - A company that provides housing for thousands of workers in oil fields and other remote locations built its first modular unit this week at its new factory southeast of Loveland.

On Thursday, PTI Group USA officially reopened the 103,000-square-foot facility south of Colorado 60 and west of Interstate 25 formerly used by Barvista Homes to manufacture modular homes.

"This is not just an exciting day; this is a great day," said Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway during opening presentations at the plant, 390 Mountain View Road.

PTI Group, based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is a subsidiary of Houston-based Oil States International. Oil States CEO and president Cindy Taylor said business is booming, with its market capitalization growing from $450 million when the company went public in 2001 to $4 billion today.

Read full text: Denver Post

Friday, April 20, 2012

Yampa Valley Data Partners report: Drilling crews leave small economic footprint in Northwest Colorado

Chris Oxley has watched oil activity in Moffat County ebb and flow for years.

The Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director said Thursday that pipeline projects and oil drilling has filled area hotels, trailer parks and rooms in private residences. It’s also brought a buzz of activity to town.

But she said the buzz doesn’t tend to last long and the economic impact of oil rig workers who sleep and stay in Craig when exploration activity ramps up is smaller than people may realize.

Read full text: Craig Daily Press

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On the Anniversary of Massachusetts v. EPA, Coloradans Can Breathe A Little Easier Thanks to EPA’s Proposed Carbon Pollution Standard

DENVER - Marking the anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Massachusetts v. EPA, U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (CO-1) Colorado conservation groups, health organizations, and small businesses joined together praising the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the Obama Administration’s recent proposal to limit industrial carbon pollution from new power plants.

Read full text:  Fly Rod and Reel

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

OHV's and our forests

Our national forests provide some of the world’s greatest recreational opportunities, such as the San Juan and Rio Grande national forests. One of the fastest growing recreational pursuits on federal lands in the West is off-highway vehicle (OHV) riding.

For many responsible users, this is a fun and appropriate way to enjoy our federal lands. But the growing number of users riding illegally are presenting some problems we need to solve to preserve recreational access for future generations.

As chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 2001 to 2007, I identified unmanaged recreation as one of the top four threats to our nation’s forests. The rapid growth in OHV riding is having a large impact on the land, and reckless riders are causing tension with other forest users.

Read full text: The Durango Herald

Thursday, March 22, 2012

NOAA-led study: Colorado oil and gas wells emit more pollutants than expected

When NOAA scientists began routinely monitoring the atmosphere’s composition at a tower north of Denver a few years ago, their instruments immediately sniffed something strange: plumes of air rich with chemical pollutants including the potent greenhouse gas methane.
Some of the pollutants picked up are known to damage air quality. Another, methane, is 25 times more effective per molecule than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The scientists were concerned. None of NOAA’s other air composition monitoring towers – there are eight, in total, scattered around the continental United States – had recorded anything similar.

Read full text: NOAA

Monday, March 5, 2012