Plan to Drill on Colorado Plateau Meets Resistance

October 30, 2009
New York Times

RIFLE, Colo. — Standing in a canyon in hilly terrain, Ken Neubecker cast his fly into a cold stream. Minutes later he had a bite. Thrashing at the end of his line was a speckled green fish, a scarce Colorado cutthroat trout.

Mr. Neubecker was fishing on the Roan Plateau, a high stretch of terrain beloved by hunters, anglers and hikers for its clear streams, herds of deer and elk, and rugged beauty.

“There just aren’t many places like this in the West,” Mr. Neubecker said. “It’s a real gem.”

But as the number of truly wild places in the United States dwindles, people like Mr. Neubecker, who is president of the Colorado chapter of a conservation group called Trout Unlimited, are arguing that the nation ought to recalibrate its view of what is worth saving.

This desire to preserve more land is running up against a powerful economic incentive to develop new supplies of oil and gas. In particular, the nation is undergoing a boom in natural gas drilling. New production techniques have expanded the country’s potential reserves of gas by 40 percent in the last few years.

Animas River one of our ‘greatest resources’

October 30, 2009

by Dale Rodebaugh
Herald Staff Writer

The quality of a community’s waterways reflects its dedication to the environment, says Buck Skillen, an inveterate fly-fisherman and board member of Trout Unlimited who keeps track of water quality for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Of particular interest to Skillen is the stretch of the Animas River from its confluence with Lightner Creek near the Durango Dog Park to the Rivera Crossing Bridge behind Home Depot. Since 1997, the division has designated that reach of the Animas as a gold-medal trout fishery – its highest rating.

But silt entering the Animas at Lightner Creek causes turbidity, which can compromise the quality of the gold-medal waters.

“The silt affects the fishability of the reach and the overall river experience,” Skillen said. “Further, it reflects negatively on our community’s stewardship of the river.”