On Nov. 9, 2004, the Bureau of Land Management conducted its fourth and final oil and gas lease auction of the year. On the chopping block were an unprecedented number of beautiful and pristine unprotected wilderness quality lands in Colorado. The majority of these areas are located in the northwestern and western parts of the state. Many of these parcels are located within the boundaries of Citizen Wilderness Proposals; these are lands citizens have spent thousands of hours exploring and verifying as eligible for wilderness designation. I believe these lands should be off-limits until Congress has had a chance to evaluate them.
The BLM, however, doesn't see it that way. The Nov. 9th sale offered more than 11,000 acres, located within seven CWPs, which are pending before Congress for wilderness protection. Including this most recent sale, approximately 40,000 acres of citizen proposed wilderness in Colorado have been auctioned off in the past 18 eighteen months.
The BLM says they are required to offer oil and gas leases in these special places. This is not true. The Mineral Leasing Act gives the BLM the discretion to decide whether or not to lease any given tract of land. There is plenty of public land in the state where oil and gas leasing would be more appropriate. The BLM seems to be singling out the most wild and beautiful unprotected landscapes remaining in Colorado. This is so disheartening to me.
I'm not suggesting the BLM stop offering oil and gas leases. However, I do feel strongly that protecting the most special places for future generations to enjoy is not only a reasonable request, but our obligation.
– David Warren, Paonia, Colo.