SENT VIA EMAIL February 12, 2013
Ms. Helen Hankins
State Director, Colorado Bureau of Land Management
2850 Youngfield Street
Lakewood, Colorado 80215-7093
Dear Ms. Hankins,
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees is writing to applaud your decision to remove parcels of BLM lands from the February 14, oil and gas lease sales for parcels adjacent to Mesa Verde National Park. We consider this a good first step towards protecting this iconic national park and critical landscapes around it from drilling. Now we ask you to permanently protect the great scenic values and resources of the national parks in Colorado by taking all appropriate steps to ensure that oil and gas development is done in ways that will not harm park resources or denigrate the experiences of the millions of visitors who travel from around the nation and world to visit the national parks of Colorado.
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees asks that you lead achievement of the following steps in order to bring a more appropriate balance to our collective public lands.
- 1) Implement the Interior Department’s oil and gas leasing reforms. Colorado BLM should consult with the National Park Service as early as possible when considering the issuance of leases that could impact the state’s national parks, park visitors, and the substantial economic benefits derived from these pristine places.
- 2) Immediately defer the parcels near Dinosaur National Monument that are proposed for Colorado BLM’s May 2013 oil and gas lease sale. Oil and gas leasing adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument’s visitor center is inappropriate and if permitted would degrade both the visitor experience and the irreplaceable paleontological values there. Colorado BLM should work in consultation with the National Park Service to thoroughly address these significant concerns before leasing.
- 3) Defer all oil and gas leasing near Mesa Verde National Park until the Tres Rios Resource Management Plan is complete. The current Tres Rios Resource Management Plan is from 1985, and is clearly and completely inadequate as a guide to protecting tourism and recreational values near the park.
- 4) Form a technical workgroup, as provided for in a June 2011 air quality memorandum of understanding between BLM, NPS and other federal agencies, to facilitate communication, share expertise and address current and future air quality impacts from oil and gas development on Mesa Verde National Park. As you know, Southwestern Colorado has struggled with air pollution issues and air quality at Mesa Verde is already compromised. Along with so many citizens of Colorado, we strongly believe that any oil and gas development must be done responsibly and only in a fashion that protects the air quality and view shed of Mesa Verde National Park.
- 5) Include and develop a Master Leasing Plan (MLP) for the “Dinosaur lowlands” landscape surrounding Dinosaur National Monument in the White River Oil and Gas Resource Management Plan Amendment. The MLP should be developed in consultation with the NPS and other stakeholders and fully evaluate and resolve the long-standing conflicts between oil and gas activity and the landscape surrounding Dinosaur.
Again, we appreciate the positive actions that you have recently taken, and welcome your consideration of our suggestions. We look forward to continuing our attention and engagement as the BLM continues planning for oil and gas leasing throughout Colorado.
Chair, Executive Council
Coalition of National Park Service Retirees
The more than 860 members of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees are all former employees of the National Park Service with a combined 26,000 years of stewardship of America’s most precious natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR members reflect the broad spectrum of skills and expertise that distinguished their National Park Service careers. CNPSR members now strive to apply their credibility and integrity as they speak out for national park solutions that uphold law and apply sound science. The Coalition counts among its members: former national park deputy directors, regional directors, superintendents, rangers and other career professionals who devoted an average of nearly 30 years each to protecting and interpreting America’s national parks on behalf of the public.