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NW Colorado 'Friends' See Red Over Drilling in Vermillion Basin

April 4, 2007


Craig, CO - Northwest Colorado hunters, ranchers, and conservationists are calling on the federal government to protect the Vermillion Basin from what they say could be a Wyoming-style oil and gas drilling boom in Colorado. Under a new proposed management plan, almost ninety percent of the 1.3 million acres in the Little Snake Resource Area, including the proposed Vermillion Basin Wilderness Area, would be open to energy development. Rick Hammel with the Friends of Northwest Colorado says the BLM has worked hard, but their proposal is out of balance.

"It's really aimed towards gas extraction rather than other resources such as wildlife and cultural issues and, we're just gonna make comments on it and see if we can't get them to change it."

Local hunters, ranchers and conservationists are calling on the agency to significantly reduce industry access and protect the proposed Vermillion Basin Wilderness. Energy development in Wyoming's nearby Powder River Basin has led to contaminated groundwater and destroyed animal habitat.

Hammel says the group wants to protect the area and keep it beautiful.

"It's just a vast sea of green. Coming into the area I just say 'Gee whiz, it's just gorgeous, I'm home."

The BLM proposal would open the majority of federal lands in Moffat and Routt counties to energy development. The citizens' group says it wants a more balanced plan.

The "Conservation Vision" is at www.savevermillion.org. The BLM's draft management plan for the area is at www.co.blm.gov/lsra/rmp/.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO