- Posted December 13, 2011 by
Oil and gas leases threaten beautiful Western Colorado valley
The Bureau of Land Management announced an Oil and Gas Lease offering http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Information/nepa/ufo.html that surrounds the North Fork Valley of The Gunnison and the towns of Paonia, Crawford and Hotchkiss http://www.northforkvalley.net/ . "It looks like Custer's last stand," said one resident.
This valley is home to many organic farms, orchards, vineyards and ranches and recently has been a described as "An American Provence" by author, Thomas P. Huber http://www.cpr.org/article/An_American_Provence . The valley is bordered by Grand Mesa National Forest, The West Elk Wilderness and Gunnison National Forest and is a fabulous recreation area for hikers, cyclists, skiers, hunters and fishermen. The oil and gas activity will heavily impact the water sources to the towns and to agriculture. Many people in the area are concerned about the potential of air and water pollution. Paonia is home to Dr. Theo Colborn who has been a strong spokesperson against the effects of hydraulic fracturing also know as "fracking."
An interesting thing to note is that billionaire, Bill Koch, has extensive private property, coal mining and oil and gas interests in the area. Oxbow Mine has recently applied for 46 permits for exploratory coal drilling in the North Fork Valley. Koch also owns Gunnison Energy Corporation, which has active drill sites in Delta and Gunnison Counties. In addition, he is orchestrating a federal land exchange in nearby Gunnison County through the Western Land Group in Denver to extend his private lands and to construct a private Western village.