Vermillion Basin in northwest Colorado. Photo by Sam Cox.
‘Tis the season for giving thanks, spreading cheer, and reflecting on the past year. In that spirit, one of our favorite traditions in The Wilderness Society’s BLM Action Center is compiling a year-end list of the greatest achievements in conservation for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The result is our CAPE Awards – with winners earning between 1 and 5 CAPEs (5 being on the high end of the scale), and a couple “honorable mentions” for those that just missed the cut.
The BLM Action Center and our partners toil away most of the year monitoring the BLM’s proposed plans for our public lands and taking the agency to task to ensure our most treasured landscapes, fragile species, and irreplaceable cultural artifacts are given the protection they deserve. Through this work we build relationships with BLM staff, and it gives us great pleasure to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important work they do for public land conservation. It’s a good reminder for all of us who care about our public lands that there are positive changes happening out there.
From protecting our national monuments to reforming oil and gas policies to promoting responsible renewable energy development, the BLM has accomplished many things this year that can help safeguard our western wildlands for future generations. So next time you’re enjoying your favorite BLM landscape, take a minute to remember these actions the agency has taken to keep it wild!
Below we share the story of this year's five-CAPE winner, the BLM's Little Snake Field Office in northwest Colorado. You can read more about all the winners in our big announcement.
Hope you enjoy our 2010 CAPE Awards.
Vermillion Basin Protected at Last!
Recipient: Little Snake Field Office
The Wilderness Society has spent more than a decade working to protect northwest Colorado’s expansive Vermillion Basin from oil and gas development. This hard-fought battle paid off this year when the Little Snake Field Office released a proposed resource management plan that establishes the “Vermillion Basin Protective Management Area,” protecting the majority of the citizens’ wilderness proposal from new oil and gas leasing and development.
Vermillion Basin includes more than 80,000 acres of wide-open sagebrush vistas, desert canyons and delicate multicolored badlands. It lies at the heart of a region that hosts a wide diversity of wildlife ranging from big game species such as pronghorn and mule deer to the majestic golden and bald eagles. The area is also steeped in a rich cultural history, as exemplified by Vermillion Canyon, which showcases one of the most spectacular collections of petroglyphs found in Colorado.
We are outright delighted this iconic landscape will be protected in the Little Snake RMP. We hope the final plan will also improve protections for other citizens’ proposed wilderness areas and for sage-grouse, an imperiled species which is dependent on intact sagebrush habitat in northwest Colorado.
Other 2010 CAPE Award Winners
Jarbidge Draft RMP Protects Wildlife, Wilderness and Fun (4 CAPEs)
Recipient: Jarbidge Field Office
Carrizo Plain National Monument Protects Wilderness-Quality Lands (4 CAPEs)
Recipient: Carrizo Plain National Monument Staff
Secretarial Order Calls for Protecting Our National Conservation Lands (4 CAPEs)
Recipient: Secretary Ken Salazar
Long Overdue Reforms to BLM’s Oil and Gas Program (3 CAPEs)
Recipient: BLM Washington DC Office
Evaluation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Plan 10 Years Later (3 CAPEs)
Recipient: GSENM Implementation Assessment Team
BLM Joins Effort to Guide Landscape Scale Conservation and Renewable Energy Development in the California Desert (2 CAPEs)
Recipient: BLM California State Office
Prehistoric Trackways National Monument Releases Strong Preliminary Alternatives for Public Comment (2 CAPEs)
Recipient: Prehistoric Trackways National Monument Staff
BLM Sets New Guidance for Implementing Travel Plans (2 CAPEs)
Recipient: Division of Recreation and Visitor Services
Agua Fria National Monument Curtails Damage from ORVs (1 CAPE)
Recipient: Rem Hawes, Monument Manager and the Monument Staff
BLM Continues to Prioritize Stakeholder Engagement, Consideration of Multiple Alternatives for Proposed SunZia Transmission Project (Honorable Mention)
Recipient: BLM New Mexico State Office
BLM Initiates a New Planning Process for Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (Honorable Mention)
Recipient: BLM Alaska State Office
- Vermillion Basin in northwest Colorado. Photo by Sam Cox.