Our View: A drilling dilemma

Bureau of Land Management officials made the right call last week when they decided not to lease the mineral rights beneath city-owned land near Elkhead Reservoir.

The city of Craig has big plans for the area, including a boat ramp, swim beach and picnic area.

An oil rig on the property would not only have been unsightly, but it also could have jeopardized the city's plans.

The bureau did the right thing last week, but the fact that the property was offered for lease raises serious questions about drilling on public lands.

With energy prices on the rise, and the president's administration pushing for increased domestic production, there seems to be a rush to tap every unused resource we have.

We agree that domestic drilling is important. We rely on oil and natural gas for our everyday needs. And energy production will bring jobs and tax revenue to Northwest Colorado.

But energy production shouldn't come at the expense of one of the region's most-prized resources -- outdoor recreation.

If property is leased near Elkhead -- where local, state and federal officials are pouring millions of dollars into an expansion project -- it makes us wonder what other jewels in Moffat County are being offered to the energy industry.

Local BLM officials didn't realize that the minerals under the city's land were part of the 196,000 acres in Colorado being leased until city officials raised the issue.

Maybe if local BLM officials weren't dealing with so many -- 115,000 -- acres of minerals for sale in Moffat County, they would have had more time to research and realize such a precious piece of land was on the chopping block.

Unlocking our natural resources is important, but it has to be done in a responsible way.

Considerations must be made to protect recreation and tourism on federal lands.

Sacrificing the region's landscape in the name of energy production would be like killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

If we fundamentally change the areas that attract hunters, fishermen and tourists, we may never lure those people back to the area.

Officials need to investigate what land they plan to drill on before offering it for lease, and then weigh the costs before sacrificing an area that improves our quality of life and draws more people to our area.

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