Letter: Speak up to ensure fish and wildlife protection | VailDaily.com

Letter: Speak up to ensure fish and wildlife protection

Right now, anglers, hunters and those who love Colorado’s wildlife have a rare opportunity to protect the state’s rivers and wildlife habitats from the negative impacts of oil and gas drilling. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is currently amending its rules for permitting oil and gas sites statewide, offering a landmark opportunity to improve protections for wildlife and wildlife habitat, including our prized trout streams and the riparian zones surrounding them.

The rulemaking is required by Senate Bill 19-181, which expanded the agency’s mission to safeguard wildlife and habitat against adverse impacts of oil and gas development. The COGCC is accepting input from the public until October 8 regarding its 1200 series of rules, which establish regulations regarding wildlife. As a lifelong angler, I intend to speak up.

This is our chance to protect the fisheries we love. Currently, the buffer zone for drilling around Colorado’s streams and rivers is a mere 300 feet, providing little or no protection for riparian zones, stream waters and associated fisheries. Trout Unlimited is among a group of informed stakeholders asking COGCC to expand the no ground disturbance buffers around valuable streams from 300 feet to 1,320 feet in order to protect surface waters and high-priority fisheries from erosion, sedimentation and spills. The expanded buffers will also protect valuable streamside habitat used by moose, deer, elk, waterfowl and a wide array of other birds and animals.

The COGCC should require additional measures to safeguard streams from spills including lining berms, using tanks instead of pits, collecting baseline water samples, and keeping spill response equipment on site. These measures are required today near streams providing municipal drinking water, and important aquatic habitats deserve to be protected in the same way.

Now is the time to speak up to ensure fish and wildlife protection is prioritized in these amendments. You can do so by emailing DNR_COGCC.Rulemaking@state.co.us with the subject line reading 800/900/1200 Series. The deadline is noon on Oct. 8.

Scott Willoughby


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