Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez unveiled his wildlife management plan in Grand Junction yesterday that called for moving elk and deer around oil and gas development on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, National Forests and wilderness areas.In Beauprez’s plan, he would take severance tax paid to the state to reclaim land and develop secondary habitat sites for wildlife. That would allow oil and gas development to proceed unfettered in lands now designated for elk calving, winter ranges and other crucial habitat areas. Beauprez called it a “win-win” situation.

It didn’t take long for protests to rise against the plan. It certainly has a few holes:

1. One of the largest elk herds in the US, located in the White River National Forest, would have to be “taught” to eat and migrate somewhere else.

2. Why should the state have to pay for reclamation? Isn’t that part of the drilling permit agreement that the drilling site has to be revegetated and reclaimed?

It is not going to take long for those voters living in gas drilling impacted areas to figure out the real “win-win” scenario of Beauprez’s initiative. His understanding of wildlife undoubtedly helped him earn the “Dirty Dozen” congressional award from the League of Conservation Voters in 2004.

As the details of his “Spend state money to move elk around more important gas wells” plan drift down to the coffee shop level on the eve of archery season, it might be to Beauprez’s advantage to stay out of the Western Slope for a while…

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Leslie Robinson

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