Citizens for a Healthy Community

Elise Thatcher/Aspen Public Radio

There’s a small army of citizen scientists in the North Fork Valley. Residents in the Paonia area are donning special backpacks for twenty-four hours at a time, to collect real time data for scientific study of air pollution.  The aim is to measure what might be getting into the air from nearby oil and gas wells.

Travis Bubenik

Today on the program we talk with Aspen Public Radio's Elise Thatcher, who was recently in the North Fork Valley reporting on a mobile air quality monitoring study being coordinated by Citizens for a Healthy Community and the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, or TEDX. 

Jim Brett

Recently, the Paonia-based Citizens for a Healthy Community, along with nearly 30 other organizations, wrote to the Bureau of Land Management, requesting that the agency comply with a recent legal ruling and release the names of all lease parcel nominators to the public. KVNF’s Marty Durlin has more.

Marty Durlin

For the past 20 years, Brent Helleckson and his family have been building a wine business on Garvin Mesa. They’ve constructed a home, a wine cellar a tasting room, and added to the vineyard. In those two decades, they also became a part of the North Fork community. When the Bureau of Land Management proposed 30,000 acres of leases for gas development in the North Fork Valley, Helleckson felt the threat to his winery as well as all agriculture and tourism-based industries.

In a press release sent out early this morning, the BLM Colorado Office announced that all 20 North Fork Valley parcels have been removed from the Feb. 14th oil and gas lease sale. 

“We’ve listened to concerns raised in numerous comments and public meetings and we are responding by deferring the North Fork Valley parcels at this time,” said Colorado State Director Helen Hankins.  “We are addressing the deferred parcels through continued dialogue with the local community and with ongoing planning efforts in the Uncompahgre Field Office.  

KVNF’s Marty Durlin interviewed BLM spokesperson Steven Hall, a Hotchkiss native, about the decision. He was speaking on his cell phone from an airport, and began by stressing that the parcels were not deferred because the the agency’s 20-year-old Resource Management Plan is inadequate. Hear that interview below:



Last week the local advocacy group Citizens for a Healthy Community announced it would file a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management if the agency does not withdraw the remaining 20,000 acres in the North Fork from its February 14 lease sale. Along with other citizens’ groups and individuals, CHC has been fighting the proposed sale since it was announced in December of 2011, saying it jeopardizes the North Fork’s economy, its organic farms, orchards, ranches, wineries and way of life. KVNF’s Marty Durlin spoke with CHC director Jim Ramey.

Headlines:

  • CHC director Jim Ramey discusses possible legal action
  • BLM accepting nominations for advisory councils
  • Fern Lake Fire continues to smolder in Rocky Mtn. Nat. Park
  • Colorado shoppers don't face new surcharges, fees
  • Gov. Hickenlooper hopes tourism industry recovers from drought

Once again, the North Fork Valley is back on the table for oil and gas development. Despite months of widespread opposition from the community, on Friday, the Bureau of Land Management announced that it plans to offer about 21,000 acres for sale near Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford in February. KVNF’s Ariana Brocious reports on the new proposal.