I just finished up a trip to Washington DC. Trout Unlimited had asked me to be a part of a team that met with the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, and staff members of a few Colorado politicians. For the record, Doug Lamborn's office would not meet with us.Our message was that the Oil and Gas Industry was not the only industry that depends on public lands. The Outdoor Industry, with $646 billion of consumer spending, is much larger than $354 billion spent on oil and gas.The Outdoor Industry, including hunting and fishing, has far more values when it comes to long-term economic business development. This is especially true in small rural communities where oil and gas provide less than 2% of jobs compared to upwards of 70% for jobs related to outdoor recreation.In 2010, the Department of the Interior announced a new set of policies that were designed to help balance energy production and other values like fishing and hunting on federal lands. A key feature of these leasing reforms was a new planning tool called Master Leasing Plans. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can use these to identify the where-and-how of energy development prior to leasing, thereby allowing the BLM to develop lease terms that avoid and/or mitigate negative impacts.It sounds simple, but it’s a layer of up-front analysis that hadn’t been happening before. MLPs can help create prescription-like best management practices and help highlight certain areas, like crucial big game winter range and valuable trout streams, that should be off-limits to development. Despite their great promise, MLPs have been under-utilized by the BLM.Also a benefit to the oil and gas industry, MLP's can provide an upfront picture of development activities that will be permitted, providing certainty when they invest in leases. Likewise, restricting development in sensitive fish and wildlife habitats will ensure that public lands and the activities they support will continue to be an economic driver for the outdoor industry.Why is this important to you?The BLM manages 281,000 acres in South Park and is eager to begin leasing fracking sites to the oil and gas industry. This entire region drains into Spinney and Elevenmile Reservoir and then into Elevenmile Canyon. Without a clear set of guidelines, our favorite fishing holes could be put at risk. A Master Leasing Plan for South Park makes sense when you consider all the competing industries' dependence on these public lands.During our trip I also had the chance to meet Dan Ashe, Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. We discussed the Threatened and Endangered listing process that the FWS is in charge of and how it may effect our Bear Creek and the greenback cutthroat trout currently living there. To keep it brief, lets just say our local politicians are playing with fire. Not turning over the utilities land in Bear Creek to the National Forest Service could have significant financial consequence to our community.
David LeinweberOwner / PresidentAngler's Covey Inc.Inviting you into adventure...
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