Dinosaur National Monument
Tucked away in northwest Colorado is the spectacular Dinosaur National Monument, home to 149 million year old dinosaur remains and Echo Park, where the Yampa and Green Rivers converge. The monument’s collection houses some 1,500 dinosaur bones. The monument is also home to ancient petroglyphs, homesteads from the pioneer era, hiking trails, picnic areas and beautiful vistas. The Green River flows through the park today unchanged from the days when John Wesley Powell floated the river on his historic exploration of the Colorado and the Grand Canyon in 1877. Not only is Dinosaur a national historic treasure, but it’s also a great place for families to camp, fish, raft and explore.
Unfortunately, oil and gas drilling threaten the monument. In recent years, the Colorado Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has repeatedly sought to lease pubic land near the boundary of Dinosaur National Monument to oil and gas companies despite a e glaring lack of current research and concern for the effects drilling would have on the monument and the local economy. One of these controversial drilling proposals was even struck down by a federal court.
In an effort to better protect our national parks and other important resources and ensure that development is done safely and responsibly, then-Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar instituted a series of reforms to the oil and gas leasing process. These reforms included consideration of impacts to national parks prior to leasing and better coordination with the National Park Service (NPS). The reforms are meant to ensure that state BLM offices use big-picture planning to identify and resolve conflicts with national parks and other important resources before leases are offered.
Unfortunately, BLM Colorado State Director Helen Hankins has failed to institute these reforms and continued to propose controversial oil and gas projects near Dinosaur National Monument – including land across the street from the monument’s southern entrance and next to the visitor center. Following public protests and letters of concern from the NPS, Director Hankins temporarily deferred the leases – but the monument is still in danger.
We need to protect Dinosaur National Monument now. Drilling on the borders of the monument puts its air quality, wildlife, and natural beauty at risk. It also threatens the local tourism and outdoor recreation economies. Nearly 200,000 people visit Dinosaur National Monument every year to enjoy the natural beauty, outdoor activities and historic treasures, spending $7 million in the local economy.
Director Hankins can take a more balanced, common sense approach to energy development and protect Dinosaur National Monument by implementing the BLM leasing reforms and preparing a Master Leasing Plan for the “Dinosaur Lowlands” area. This American treasure deserves nothing less.