BLM seeks public comments on oil and gas program in Colorado

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If you want to weigh in on Colorado’s oil and gas program and other big game management decisions, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is accepting public comments until Sept. 2. The agency is primarily interested in how these issues impact elk, mule deer and antelope, Summit Daily News reports. 

According to BLM’s state office planner, Ashley Phillips, 53% of the land that BLM manages in the state “contains priority habitat for elk, 48% of it encompasses priority habitat for mule deer and about 9% of it consists of high priority habitat for [antelope].” Bighorn sheep are not part of this particular comment period because it is not part of Secretarial Order 3362. 

“The bighorn sheep habitat is generally in low gas-potential areas,” said Shawn Wiser, a BLM wildlife biologist. “Eleven percent of the (Bureau of Land Management’s) land surface contains priority bighorn sheep habitat, and about 3% of that is currently leased.”

“The purpose of this effort, our preliminary purpose, is to really evaluate alternative management approaches for (Bureau of Land Management) oil and gas decisions,” added Wiser. “Those planning skill decisions (are) to ultimately maintain, conserve and protect priority habitat areas for big game.”

BLM is collecting public comment because of a state recommendation to look at ways oil and gas leases may impact seasonal habitats, which are critical for herd viability. While big game species usually avoid areas with new development or an increase in infrastructure and roads, “studies show that game abundance can decline due to energy development despite aggressive on-site mitigation efforts.”

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