LETTER: Outdoor traditions must flourish as energy is developed | PostIndependent.com

LETTER: Outdoor traditions must flourish as energy is developed

Hunting and fishing in northwest Colorado is a tradition that goes back generations to pioneering trappers and furbearers. Mule deer and sage grouse were once much more abundant than they are now and were hunted in greater numbers. More recently elk have expanded onto much of the range formerly occupied only by deer and pronghorn, and now the area is home to the largest elk herd in North America.

Sportsmen from all over the state and country spend millions of dollars a year on hotels, gas, guide services, equipment, food and the like in Rio Blanco, Moffat and Garfield counties. Without healthy and harvestable populations of game we could see our long-held traditions deteriorate.

There are ways to keep our outdoor traditions and hunting and fishing economy intact while responsibly developing the energy resources of Piceance Basin and other nearby BLM lands. This includes adequate preplanning through master energy leasing plans, as well as identifying and protecting areas of high-quality, undeveloped fish and wildlife habitat.

A coalition of local and national hunters and anglers ranging from outdoor businesses to bowhunters to former wildlife managers is rallying around the idea of balanced and responsible management, including setting aside important BLM lands for hunting, fishing and fish and wildlife. These areas should maintain the traditional uses of the land including grazing, wildlife management projects and recreation.

These “backcountry conservation areas,” as they’re being called, keep access open and rights intact on public lands while keeping areas open that are relied on year after year by sportsmen. Given the intense and year-round development proposed in the White River Field Office’s oil and gas amendment, a balanced approach should include maintaining our outdoor economy and way of life.

Tim Brass

Southern Rockies coordinator

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

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