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New public land policies could mean better on-the-ground practices


A new Colorado BLM policy will hold off leasing in South Park until a master leasing plan is written for the area. Photo Courtesy of Colorado Wildlife Federation/Suzanne O'NeillA new Colorado BLM policy will hold off leasing in South Park until a master leasing plan is written for the area. Photo Courtesy of Colorado Wildlife Federation/Suzanne O'Neill

The National Wildlife Federation and its partners in the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition have been urging the Interior Department to fully implement its promised reforms of oil and gas leasing on public lands since the agency announced the changes in 2010. The reforms would include more comprehensive, upfront planning – a “look-before-you-lease” approach championed by NWF and SFRED. Sportsmen have also advocated being smart from the start when large-scale wind and solar energy projects are proposed on public lands.

So, a couple recent decisions – one at the federal level, one at a state level – are encouraging. On April 10, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell released a plan for using a science-based, landscape-scale strategy for energy production or other projects on public lands.

NWF, Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership formed the SFRED coalition more than five years ago, brought together by concerns over how oil and gas extraction was springing up in vital fish and wildlife habitats across the West without any real thought to the impacts. 

NWF and its partners campaigned for a big-picture approach to leasing, one that considers the potential cumulative impacts, takes a good look at what’s on the landscape, including fish and wildlife, and strives to reduce conflicts ahead of time. Jewell says her new plan’s goal is to “successfully shift from a reactive, project-by-project approach to more predictable and effective management of the lands and resources that we manage on behalf of the American public.”

Read more of the blog on Wildlife Promise

About the Author
Judith Kohler

Judith Kohler is the regional communications manager for the National Wildlife Federation in Boulder, Colo. Before joining NWF in 2011, she covered the environment, energy, politics and general news stories for The Associated Press in Colorado and Wyoming.

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