During constituent time at the Sept. 4 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners three people from the North Fork appealed to the county commissioners to take additional action on the Bureau of Land Management leases up for sale in December.
Mariah Whoolilurie said she arrived in the North Fork last November, battling health conditions, to heal and find fresh air. She fell in love with the area.
Whoolilurie's concerns about the BLM leasing the oil and gas locations in the North Fork are related to impact on the watershed, air, organic agriculture, human health, spills, potential seismic occurrences and transportation accidents. She said she was most concerned about harm to human health and harm to animals.
She said to the commissioners, "Your responsibility as county commissioners is to listen to your constituents. Remove the North Fork parcels from the BLM December sale, the parcels around the Paonia reservoir. You have the capacity to remove these parcels. Please consider your constituents."
Andrew Forkes-Gudmundson with Citizens for a Healthy Community said he has concerns about the same issues as Whoolilurie.
He said the Town of Paonia worked hard incorporating the community's thoughts in a five-page scoping letter. It apparently disappeared and was omitted from the BLM's preliminary environmental assessment.
Forkes-Gudmundson asked the BoCC to withdraw the parcels in the North Fork from the BLM sale of leases and demand that the BLM perform a proper analysis.
Mike Drake said there is a need to regulate for wildlife, particularly hunting. He is concerned about grazing rights and polluted water.
Drake said that, from attending the oil and gas working group, it seems a lot of people don't think there will be a lot of oil and gas development in the North Fork. He said, "If you lease, you have to go and drill a hole, and no one knows how much development there will be.
"You guys have to stand up for us," he told the commissioners.
The leases to be offered for leasing in December are on Bureau of Land Management land.
The Paonia Board of Trustees held a special meeting Monday, Sept. 10, to consider comments to the BLM regarding the oil and gas lease sales.