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Hunters, anglers hail BLM’s decision to pull North Fork leases from sale


DENVER – Sportsmen’s groups welcome news that the Colorado Bureau of Land Management is withdrawing proposed oil and gas leases that include big game habitat and trout fisheries along the North Fork of the Gunnison River.

The decision announced Wednesday follows protests and letters from several Colorado hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts concerned about selling leases using a 23-year-old resource management plan.

The 20 parcels covering a total of 20,555 acres in western Colorado were to be offered in the BLM’s Feb. 14 sale.

``We’re glad the BLM pulled the leases from the sale because it doesn’t make sense to push forward with selling leases in such an important wildlife and agricultural area, against the wishes of the community and using outdated planning materials and information,’’ said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation.

In a Jan. 7 letter, seven sportsmen’s groups asked the BLM to finish revising the area resource management plan before offering more oil and gas leases.

Sportsmen appreciate the BLM’s decision to take more time to listen to the public and consider the potential impacts on the watershed and the fisheries it sustains, said Bob Meulengracht of Trout Unlimited.

``We look forward to working with the field office as they update the resource management plan, identify where leasing is suitable and detail the necessary protections,’’  added Meulengracht, the Colorado coordinator for Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development.

Signing onto the Jan. 7 letter were Trout Unlimited; Colorado Trout Unlimited; Colorado Wildlife Federation; Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance; Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Backcountry Hunters & Anglers; and the National Wildlife Federation. The organizations represent thousands of Colorado hunters and anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts.

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