Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Banding together

An unlikely partnership has formed as a response to worry about the future of public land. Hunters and anglers are forming alliances with environmental groups like The Wilderness Society and Sierra Club. An AP story explains that the "hook and bullet" crowd is wielding more and more clout when it comes to managing public land, like that on the Roan Plateau in western Colorado. The plateau is valued by energy companies for its wealth of natural gas. It's prized by outdoors people for its remoteness.

That same fight is taking place in other areas as well - northern Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, Wyoming's Jack Morrow Hills, and New Mexico's Valle Vidal.

There are no easy answers for either side - the Roan Plateau, which straddles two Colorado counties, generates an estimated $5 million a year for the local economy from hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife. It could also provide enough natural gas for 4 million homes for the next 20 years, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association trade group.

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