High Plains Public Lands Under Siege by Oil and Gas Industry

August 7, 2017

Pawnee National Grassland Map Screenshot

Check out our latest interactive map highlighting the threats facing the Pawnee National Grassland and clean air along the Front Range of Colorado.

Since 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has auctioned off tens of thousands of acres of public lands for fracking in and near the Pawnee National Grassland.

This high plains landscape north of Denver is renowned for its birding, its value for imperiled plains wildlife, its opportunities for outdoor recreation, and for containing some of the last remaining tracts of undeveloped public lands in the North American Great Plains.
With a surge in horizontal drilling and fracking along Colorado’s Front Range, the Pawnee National Grassland is now in industry’s crosshairs. Sadly, the Bureau of Land Management has been more than willing to sacrifice these public lands to oil and gas companies.

Fracking is a disaster for the Pawnee National Grassland. It stands to erode safeguards for these valuable public lands and the wildlife they support, fuel climate change, and worsen smog pollution in the Denver Metro Area.

See for yourself what fracking is doing to this irreplaceable landscape.

Through two separate legal actions, WildEarth Guardians is working to thwart industry’s push to protect the Pawnee.

The first case challenges the Bureau of Land Management over its failure to disclose and address the climate impacts of fracking on public lands. The second case challenges the agency over its failure to rein in air pollution from fracking in and near the Pawnee.


Swift fox, denizen of the Pawnee National Grassland.

Our latest map shows the location of the Pawnee and the public lands lands that the Bureau of Land Management has auctioned off since 2015.

Click on the layers and you can also see where existing oil and gas wells are located and where the location of the Denver Metro ozone “nonattainment” area (i.e., the Denver smog zone) is located.

You can also get a birds-eye view of what’s happening on the Pawnee, check out our album of aerial photos.

There’s so much at stake on the Pawnee and other public lands in the American West. We can’t keep sacrificing these landscapes to the fossil fuel industry. It’s time to keep our oil and gas in the ground.

About the Author

Jeremy Nichols | Former Climate and Energy Program Director, WildEarth Guardians

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