WASHINGTON – A report released Aug. 10 by 19 sportsmen’s organizations and businesses urges smart-from-the-start planning, public engagement and consideration of the long-term impacts on fishing and hunting opportunities in response to efforts to increase and speed up energy development on public lands.
The report calls for well-planned oil and gas drilling and production by featuring examples of where this has and has not been done. The report also names areas where the potential remains to do things right, because of the involvement of sportsmen and other community members.
The group has released the report, “Lessons Learned: A Blueprint for Securing our Energy Future While Preserving America’s Sporting Heritage,” as the Trump administration explores ways to streamline approval of leases and drilling on national public lands, change the way impacts are offset through mitigation and remove perceived “burdens” to domestic energy production.
“Energy development can coexist with healthy habitat and quality hunting and angling, but it doesn’t happen by chance,” the report says.
“Lessons Learned” looks at:
- The fallout from insufficient planning and inattention to the long-term impacts on fish and wildlife habitat in Colorado’s Piceance Basin and Wyoming’s Pinedale Anticline.
- A New Mexico ranch where responsible energy development can offer lessons for development on public land.
- The ripe opportunities to balance energy development with safeguarding habitat and hunting and fishing opportunities in Colorado’s South Park and Wyoming’s Greater Little Mountain Area by collecting public input early on, collaborating among diverse stakeholders and completing comprehensive plans up front.
The report culminates in 10 principles aimed at facilitating responsible energy development and ensuring that high-quality opportunities to hunt and fish on public lands are sustained long into the future.
Here are comments from the National Wildlife Federation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited, plus outdoor business owners, elected officials and community members in support of these ideas:
Chris Wood, CEO Trout Unlimited
“Hunting, angling, and other wildlife-related recreation generates more than $7 billion in revenue for state and local economies, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Through SFRED, hunters and anglers are acting as responsible stewards of our invaluable public land inheritance, and making sure that one use of these lands, energy development, is balanced with all the others. We can work together to ensure sportsmen and women’s voices are heard before sensitive fish and wildlife habitat and water resources are developed. And we can ensure that development complies with measures that safeguard clean water and healthy fish and wildlife habitat. History shows a headlong rush toward ‘energy dominance’ could have a profoundly negative effect on fish and wildlife habitat and water supplies that define the West.”
Collin O’Mara, CEO and president, National Wildlife Federation
“The suggestion that we must choose between enjoying the multiple values from our public lands over energy development is patently false – and sportsmen and women, our frontline, on-the-ground conservationists, reject it. We can have responsible energy development while sustaining fish and wildlife populations and the public lands essential to hunters, anglers and recreationists. But, as the report by Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development shows, doing so requires thoughtful, comprehensive planning and recognition that there are values provided by our public lands beyond just the oil, gas and minerals that lie beneath them. With the administration pushing for more domestic energy production, we must take steps now to ensure the long-term health of our wildlife, air, water and recreational opportunities on our public lands.”
Whit Fosburgh, CEO and president, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
“Sportsmen are counting on the administration to maintain key BLM energy leasing and development policies that help safeguard America’s hunting and fishing traditions. We have a good sense of which management tools work across the landscape, and which don't, to ensure an appropriate balance between development and the conservation of our fish and wildlife resources. Rather than debating the effectiveness of these tools and whether or not to utilize them, the TRCP believes the current discussion should be focused on how and where BLM will utilize these tools to balance energy development with other valuable uses of our public lands, like habitat and recreation.”
Kevin Timm, founder and owner of Seek Outside, Grand Junction, Colo.
“Our company manufactures outdoor and hunting equipment in western Colorado. Many of our customers are only going to buy our products if they have great places to recreate on public lands. To see hunting opportunities lost because of unbalanced energy development is not only gut-wrenching, it hurts our bottom line. We need sensible policies about how and where energy development is going to take place on public land.”
Mike Brazell, Park County, Colo., commissioner
"In Park County, we believe the best economy is a diversified economy. That’s why county officials joined with the towns, landowners, sportsmen, water users and recreationists to help chart the best way forward as the Bureau of Land Management began updating its plan for public lands in our area. We wanted to make sure the plan allows for responsible energy development while safeguarding the water, unspoiled backcountry and fish and wildlife habitat that make South Park a destination for hunters and anglers from across the country. There's wide support in Park County for smart-from-the-start planning and public involvement. This should be standard operating procedure for all public-lands management."
Chris Steffen, Green River, Wyo.
"I moved to southwest Wyoming nearly 26 years ago and immediately fell in love with the Little Mountain/Pine Mountain area. It has such unique diversity that I had not seen in other wild places in Wyoming. It also has, what I feel, are unique challenges and a fragility that could forever change the landscape, if not protected. The Greater Little Mountain area is highly valued by those that live locally and anyone who has spent time in the area. Greater protections need to be afforded to this landscape so it retains its beauty for my kids and future generations to come."