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Energy Development Threatens America’s Public Land Habitats
During the past decade, an unprecedented energy boom has transformed huge tracts of the West’s cherished public lands. Much of this development has happened in irreplaceable wildlife habitat - special places where families have hunted and fished for generations like the Montana’s Middle Yellowstone River Valley. Unfortunately, because some development is poorly planned, America’s outdoor legacy is at risk.
Between 2000 and 2008, the number of permits to develop oil and gas tripled, and an estimated 126,000 new wells are planned for the next 20 years. Another 26 million acres - an area larger than Ohio - are already leased for development.
Sportsmen appreciate how important energy is to our country. But oil and gas drilling that pays little regard to fish, wildlife and water resources is unacceptable. Fortunately, many of the worst impacts of energy development can be avoided with careful planning. That’s why hunters and anglers created the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition and why they are now highlighting 10 irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitats at risk from irresponsible drilling in a report. The report will be used to promote responsible, science-based public lands energy development that follows a multiple-use approach and considers the needs of fish and wildlife as well as hunters and anglers.
This report explains what makes the 10 habitats, including New Mexico’s San Juan Mountains and Colorado’s Roan Plateau, special and how they’re at risk. The report also recommends ways to develop energy without losing recreational opportunities or the $7 billion that hunting and fishing contribute to the Western economy annually.
The 10 endangered habitats described in the report offer prime hunting and fishing opportunities. Read the public lands feature in the next issue of The Union Sportsmen’s Journal to learn how you could hunt the Middle Yellowstone River Valley.