Coal mining threatens to tarnish Colorado's spectacular Book Cliffs

Munger Creek, Grand Junction, Colorado

Soren Jespersen

Colorado’s Grand Junction Book Cliffs showcase geological wonders that date back to the Age of Dinosaurs. Grand plateaus, mesas and buttes formed from Cretaceous sandstone loom above vast canyons lush with sagebrush and dotted juniper trees. But potential coal mining development currently threatens to cut a deep scar through this unique landscape that has recently been proposed for wilderness protection.

Unfortunately, a potential coal mine could bring irreversible damage to these animals’ habitats by allowing roads, trucks and industry to dominate this wild landscape.

Hunter Canyon and the Book Cliffs area has been identified as possessing “wilderness characteristics,” which means that it supports wildlife and their migration corridors, helps to clean our air and water, allows us to study the natural world and provides important sources of economic activity. Elk and mule deer winter in these canyons, and other wildlife such as coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, pronghorn antelope and American bison call the Grand Junction region home.

Pronghorn antelope. Photo: U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

Unfortunately, a potential coal mine could bring irreversible damage to these animals’ habitats by allowing roads, trucks and industry to dominate this wild landscape.

Stop a dirty coal mine in Colorado's Book Cliffs!

In addition to supporting a broad array of important plants and animals, Colorado’s Book Cliffs also offers visitors the extraordinary opportunities to experience almost complete solitude and isolation out in wilderness. But development associated with the proposed coal mine could negatively impact Colorado’s recreational uses such as mountain biking, hiking, wildlife-watching and hunting.

Coal mining would also certainly impact the vulnerable air quality of Colorado’s western slope. An area that already experiences increasingly serious air quality issues every year, the western slope could be exposed to another large potential source of pollution through dust and smog emitted from mining operations, as well as the trucks and trains used to move natural resources.

But there is hope. The development of this mine can be stopped before the digging even begins. Supporters of Colorado’s Books Cliffs can send comments to the Bureau of Land Management asking them to stop the leasing of this mine.

Book Cliffs can be protected from development of this mine through your public support. If you care about western Colorado’s wild landscape, recreational opportunities and air quality, speak up say “NO” to a potential coal mine in this remarkable area.

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