North Fork in the News: New BLM regime shifts energy landscape in Colorado

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The confluence of the North Fork with the main stem of the Gunnison River. Photo by Bruce Gordon, EcoFlight.

Excerpt from

E & E News: New BLM regime shifts energy landscape in Colorado

By Pamela King

PAONIA, Colo. — Soaring in a turboprop aircraft over the tidy green patchwork of the North Fork Valley, Pete Kolbenschlag gestures toward a dirt-brown interruption in the landscape.

It’s an oil and gas site, and as the eight-passenger plane glides over the valley, a few more come into view. A coal operation protrudes from the highway that cuts through the blue-green hills.

Locals describe the region in layers. Low-lying lands are privately held. The Forest Service, a unit of the Department of Agriculture, controls the peaks. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management owns the tracts that serve as the corridor between the two.

Because water and wildlife pass through BLM’s lands, protection is critical, local activists say.

“We need to have a planning process that looks at the landscape as a whole,” Kolbenschlag said.

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