Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate
Bald Eagle Refuge Opened Up to Drilling – WildEarth Guardians Urges Protections for Eagle
“The BLM’s assessment fails to address the combined impact of the existing and proposed wells on the bald eagle,” says Jon-Paul Oliva, conservation biologist for WildEarth Guardians. “Many, many wells are already active in the area, each of which contributes to a loss of air and water quality, an increase in erosion and habitat loss and the spread of non-native plant species. Allowing more wells to be drilled within the Bald Eagle ACEC will endanger the habitat that the eagles depend on,” said Oliva.
Designated in 1988, the 1700-acre Bald Eagle ACEC protects important daytime winter forage and nighttime roosting habitat for the Bald Eagle, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act. The BLM’s 1992 Activity Plan for the Bald Eagle ACEC identifies oil & gas drilling as the “primary threat” to the area, and requires that the agency allow no surface disturbance within the “core” habitat areas of the ACEC. “It makes no sense for the BLM to violate its own Management Plan and allow drilling within a protected area that, while relatively small in size, is critical to the recovery of the Bald Eagle” said Oliva. “The BLM must take a second look at this drilling proposal to ensure federal environmental safeguards are not being violated.”
WildEarth Guardians’ latest comments follow-up on their criticism of the new Farmington Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement [RMP & EIS], which ultimately will allow 12,000 new oil & gas wells to be drilled, along with the construction of over 800 miles of new roads and the disturbance of approximately 45,000 acres of land in northern New Mexico.
The primary effect of oil and gas exploration and extraction on native wildlife is through habitat fragmentation. Wildlife migration routes may be disrupted, feeding and nesting sites may be isolated into parcels too small to use, and the cumulative effect of widespread activity creates noise, emits pollutants, and generally disrupts wildlife behavior.
“WildEarth Guardians seeks to preserve and restore native wildlands and wildlife in the American Southwest through fundamental reform of public policies and practices. For more information about WildEarth Guardians’ efforts, please visit wildearthguardians.org .”