An out-of-state hunter says save the Roan
Last winter, I decided to plan an elk trip on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ground in the Piceance Creek area. In July, my 11-year-old son and I traveled from our home in Iowa to Rifle. We did a lot of scouting along Piceance Creek, and I was disappointed at how many roads were closed to us that had gas rigs on them. On the last day, I decided to drive up Cow Creek Road to check out what the map said was the “Naval Oil Shale Reserve.” I was amazed when we got up on top of the Roan Plateau. Here was this rugged beautiful mountainous area with stretching aspen and pine forests, sheer rock walls, arid scrub brush areas and a view from cliffs that allowed you to see for miles over to the great Grand Hogback and down to Rifle and the Colorado River. It was incredibly beautiful and remote. I told my son that we had to hunt here for a week and explore this place.We returned this fall to the Roan Plateau during the first rifle season, and it was the best hunt I have ever been on. We did not see many elk, but the land and the remoteness made it an incredibly spirit-enriching trip. Some of the aspen forests were still gold, and the wide expanses of the Parachute creek canyon were breathtaking. We walked for miles along ridges looking for elk. The solitude of the land and the diversity of the forests and landscapes made me keep walking mile after mile to be thrilled by what beauty would lie ahead.I am so grateful that there were not any gas rigs up on the Plateau’s public lands. The site of these rigs and the truck traffic that would have accompanied it would have destroyed the experience. It would have made it impossible to truly leave the trappings of the industrialized world for this pristine land that God has so artfully crafted.I am haunted by this area now. Since coming back, I continually dream of the deep valleys, the white stands of aspen trunks, the clouds racing along the mountain peaks. I plan to come back next year to hunt and further explore this beautiful area.I write this letter to implore the citizens and elected officials of the great state of Colorado to protect the awesome nature of the Roan Plateau. People like me come to your state for its beautiful places and wide open spaces – this is what makes Colorado so special. I was amazed to find out that nearly all of the BLM land in Western Colorado’s Piceance Basin has already been leased for natural gas drilling and that tens of thousands more wells are planned over the next decade. That the Roan Plateau’s public lands remain wild and undeveloped is a blessing, and I urge Colorado to ensure that they remain this way. Please keep the gas rigs and industrialization from contaminating this wonderful piece of your beautiful state.God bless the great state of Colorado. Richard J. McInnis is from Bettendorf, Iowa.
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