The Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Office is considering an amendment to oil and gas program decisions in existing BLM Colorado resource management plans to promote the conservation of big game corridors and other important big game habitats on BLM-administered land and minerals in Colorado. The scoping period ended September 2. This press release includes a link to the official website. Here is the project description:
Description: The BLM will propose and analyze, with the best available scientific methods and information, a statewide amendment to existing BLM Colorado land use plans to evaluate alternatives for planning-scale oil and gas management prescriptions for the conservation of important big game habitat. The BLM will consider whether to incorporate new or changed oil and gas management decisions in existing land use plans, such as limits on high-density development, including facility and route density limitations, and other lease stipulations that would incorporate conservation measures for important big game habitat areas in Colorado.
This is in response to the 2018 USDI Secretarial Order No. 3362, “Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big-Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors,” and the release of the state of Colorado’s Big Game Policy Report, which recommended the bureau actually undertake this amendment to strengthen oil and gas lease stipulations consistent with new wildlife rules.
This sounds like good planning, which should be expanded to include:
- The Forest Service. Especially if you are talking about connectivity, it does little good if it runs into a “wall” created by management of other ownerships. How is the Forest Service going to be involved in this? (Especially where BLM administers leases on national forests.)
- Other energy. We have talked about the need to do this kind of thing for renewable energy proposals, and why shouldn’t that be integrated with this kind of planning effort for oil and gas?
- Other species. Just because big game species have more lobbying power doesn’t mean such efforts should ignore the same kinds of connectivity issues for other species like sage-grouse and large carnivores. Including areas used by many species should be a goal.
- Other states. The Order calls for collaboration with states, and it looks like Colorado has taken the initiative here, but that doesn’t mean the BLM couldn’t be promoting this elsewhere, or that it is precluded from initiating an effort that would include state participation.