Colorado

Oil and Gas Drilling: North Fork Valley

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Oil and Gas Drilling: North Fork Valley
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Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society

Wineries and farms endangered by oil drilling

In southwestern Colorado’s North Fork Valley, wineries, family farms and outdoor recreation are the backbone of the area’s economy. All of it is sustained by the North Fork of the Gunnison River, which rambles through the fertile North Fork valley before joining the mighty Gunnison River.

Unfortunately, the oil and gas industry has set its sights on the landscape surrounding the North Fork of the Gunnison, putting the area’s clean water at risk of pollution. Without a supply of clean water, this picturesque landscape and local livelihoods could be lost forever.

Why this place matters
Clean drinking water
This region provides water for millions of people.
Wildlife habitat
Mule deer, elk, Canada lynx, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, bald eagle and greenback cutthroat trout all thrive in the area.
A Colorado wine region
The area is one of the only federally recognized wine regions in Colorado.

The threat

From the bustling farms of the North Fork Valley to the headwaters in the Gunnison National Forest, oil and gas leasing risks the future economic well-being of local communities. In 2011 and 2012, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed leasing public lands in the North Fork Valley for oil and gas development, but the local community disagreed with the proposal. They banded together to propose a locally grown vision that the agency agreed to consider. Known as the North Fork Citizen’s Alternative, this vision would keep energy development away from sensitive areas.

Meanwhile above the valley, oil and gas companies have proposed major leasing projects in the Gunnison National Forest that could contaminate water flowing into the North Fork of the Gunnison. Surface contamination and spills occur regularly on Colorado oil and gas fields and could rapidly spread through irrigation systems that water the valley.

Now, the BLM is proposing to lease in the North Fork, turning their back on the citizens’ alternative plan for one that favors drilling. We must continue to push both the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service to protect vulnerable wildlands in the North Fork Valley from drilling and listen to the communities that depend on its clean water.

What we're doing

  1. Promoting local desires

    We are working with local partners to push the BLM to adopt the North Fork Citizen’s Alternative, a locally grown vision that protects sensitive areas in the North Fork area from drilling.

  2. Advocating for no drilling in sensitive wild lands

    By submitting official comments to the BLM, we’re on record opposing plans that put drilling over other uses of public lands in the North Fork Valley.

  3. Educating

    Through education and outreach, we’re raising awareness that the North Fork is too special to drill.

What you can do
Learn more and sign our petition to the Bureau of Land Management to oppose oil and gas leasing in the North Fork Valley!
Sign the petition