Melanie K. Yazzie: Please preserve wildlife, wilderness


To the Editor:

I ask the members of this community to remember our way of life when it comes to considering how we address the wildfire-like growth of oil and gas drilling in Moffat County.

The recent Energy Summit at the Holiday Inn of Craig focused mainly on the oil and gas boom. While bringing promises of economic growth, oil and gas extraction also challenges the special way of life we enjoy as hikers, ranchers, hunters and pretty much anyone else who enjoys the outdoors as much as we do. I am disappointed that the Summit did not include our viewpoint to balance those of industry officials.

I would like to bust a few myths that might have resulted from the Summit and our local news coverage.

Myth Buster One: Despite industry-led perceptions to the contrary, our economy does not depend on energy development for its health. We belong to a Western economy traditionally based on responsible land usage.

Independent economic data for the Rocky Mountains suggest that most of our personal income comes not from energy, but from amenities like wildlife and wilderness in our backyard. As we grow our energy industry, we must ensure that even long-term boom does not bust our main economic provider - the environment.

Myth Buster Two: Industry is not going to leave our area if we demand fair payment for their use of our lands. On May 17, the Craig Daily Press ran a headline: "Energy companies predict long stay in Colorado." Don't believe my estimation that oil and gas companies will be here long term, read about it for yourself. Rio Blanco County is already considering an impact use fee, why aren't we doing the same? We can give our public input into regulations drafted by the State Commission revising outdated laws about usage fees. Moffat County should get fair payment and consideration for use of our public lands by private companies.

Myth Buster Three: Vermillion Basin does not have extensive known reserves of oil and gas.

Like industry officials admitted at the Energy Summit, results in Vermillion Basin are hit and miss at best. US geological studies of the area suggest that the basin holds only enough recoverable gas to fuel U.S. energy needs for less than 10 days, and less than eight minutes worth of oil needs. These figures are astounding when we weigh the impact of oil and gas drilling against the preservation of one of the most unique wilderness areas in the West. It is in our best interest to urge the BLM to preserve Vermillion Basin.

As Westerners, it is our tradition to balance economic opportunities with caring for the land itself. It is our unique knowledge of the land and sensible resourcefulness that define our way of life.

This tradition involves an inherent investment in that land's health so that this way of life - our deer, elk, petroglyphs and beautiful canyon vistas - can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Melanie K. Yazzie



50cal 8 years, 10 months ago

mythbuster one how are your tourists going to get here to spend their money if they can't afford the drive/flight? how are farmers ranchers going to work their land if they can't afford the fuel?

mythbuster two you think they won't leave? encana one of the largest in the state has already cut their exploration in colorado by 20% on speculation that the harsher laws will be passed. you think they won't leave? why wouldn't they? they can move their rigs to other states in a matter of days. wyoming and both dakotas are both experiancing explosive growth. Encana alone means not just their own employees but water haulers, roustabouts pipelayers, support and supply personal as well. Many people depend on these jobs.

mythbuster three vermillion basin as refered to by the oil and gas industry is the gas field UNDERGROUND not what you see on the drainage of the surface. I've seen the maps of where the gas lays through out moffat county. The piance basin in rio blanco county is a surface basin that eventually drains into the white river. The piance gas field is currently being drilled in Rio Blanco, garfield and Mesa counties.

If you want to perserve the west watch your kids when the boom hits. This is not the oil and gas boom of the 70s guns and drugs are on allowed in company vehicals. producers must now have plans to reclamate the land after drilling, and after the lease stops producing. Fines and penilties are stiff for violaters. I don't beleive they are stiff enough and that is where you can enforce your will of how we leave the land for our children. companies should be shut down for not following the rules already established. Deer and Elk couldn't care less about what you do to the land as long as it is inhabitable. As a matter of fact they love the fresh shoots of grass that come up every spring on pipe lines and locations that have been reclaimed.

I will say this I grew up here, on a ranch hunting and fishing here. love this county its the most beautiful place in the world. I've been clear around it. its my home no matter what problems we have here. But I will not be led to beleive that we cannot go get oil and gas reserves the way we are with out killing the country side. Moffat county does have impact fees for the county roads that get used and tore up by the oil industry.

If you beleave that our local economy is still going strong because people are coming to see the wilderness and other local attractions. I don't. I beleave the reason the whole western slope of western colorado is still booming while the rest of the country is slowing down is precisely because of the oil and gas boom.


rhammel 8 years, 10 months ago

50 cal,

You obviously haven't been up to Pinedale, Wyo, lately. Between the Jonah field and the Pinedale Anticline, there are thousands of gas wells and more coming. Deer and elk are in a sharp decline and sage grouse will probably get listed on the Endangered Species List sometime next year. Do you want NW Colorado to go through development like that? If you do, why don't you live somewhere else and leave this area to us who really care for as it is?


grannyrett 8 years, 10 months ago

rhammel-The oil industry and wildlife can co-exist. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. I grew up on a ranch with a producing oil well. The deer and elk numbers did not go down. Oil producers care about the ecology of the areas they are working in. It doesn't have to be either/or. It can be both. Unless you work in the industry, you have no idea what they are doing to ensure that they do not harm this land. Listen to 50cal. He knows what is going on. He has always been one of the biggest advocates for "do no harm". He was raised that way. We all know how the earth comes back after a fire. We know the technology used to return the earth back to or better than it was. Don't be so quick to jump on the bandwagon that will shut down oil exploration. Just as coal mining companies have to reclaim the earth, so do oil companies. Leave an open mind to all the possibilities. The biggest problem with some of these green earth groups is that you do it their way or no way. They refuse to listen. Their minds are closed. That is not the way to educate yourself to the possibilities that are open to you.


50cal 8 years, 10 months ago

rhammel, don't tell me where i've been lately. you don't know who I am. Are you trying to tell me that the deer and elk are in decline Solely because of the oil and gas industry? Did I say to open up moffat county like pinedale? Or did I say that the oil and gas industry can work within the existing laws and benifit both? NWCO will not sustain gas developement like that. The sage grouse was declining way before the latest gas boom so don't blame it on about the thousands of acres that used to be in wheat and oats every other year that are not now. that is when the population began to decline. As for me leaving this county you can shoot me an email via the editor of the paper and you can meet up with me and kick me out.


50cal 8 years, 10 months ago

by the way hammel colorado already has stricter laws than wy. you will see the differance down around Rifle where they used to be able to punch one hole per location now they are puching up to 32 wells on one location. its this amazing thing called directonal drilling. this lessens the impact to the area. they also made sure that all new wells have to have tanks that conform to the land thus if its towards the top of a hill they cannot stick 20ft tanks on it to be seen for the next hundred miles. Like I said follow the laws already in place and the county can also establish guidelines to area and site management. oil and gas will work with communities for the benifit of both as long as the regulatons are not so stiff that it stiffles exploration


grannyrett 8 years, 10 months ago

Mythbuster #1--Maybe the area around Steamboat Springs derives most of its personal income from wildlife and wilderness, but Craig and Moffat County never have. Up until the early 70's the economy in this area was based on ranchers and farmers. There were some mines, but not nearly as big as they are today. In the 70's, the Hayden power plant added another unit and the Craig Power plant was built. Since then, the area's around Craig and Hayden depend on the energy to keep going. Who do you think the major taxpayers are. It's the energy companies. Wildlife only effects us during hunting season, and wilderness---does that effect us at all? We do not get the tourists like Steamboat does looking for wilderness. Never have, never will. So, Ms. Yazzie--You need to get your facts straight. Some of us have lived here longer than you have been living and can remember what this town was like 50 years ago. Energy saved this town. Without it, there would not be a Craig, Colorado. It would have dried up and blown away like the great metropolis of Great Divide, or was it just Divide? Can't remember, but am sure someone out there will let me know.


50cal 8 years, 10 months ago

last time a tourist looked for wilderness around here he said "where the hells maybell". See what we got out of that.


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