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North Fork Valley is worth protecting

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Dear Editor:

My grandparents moved their family to Paonia in 1938 and bought a 110-acre farm at the base of Mt. Lamborn. The Living Farm has raised sheep, pigs, chickens, cows, hay, silage, vegetables and grains. It has also raised three generations of Gillespies. The farm represents our lives and livelihood.

A few years ago when the BLM announced the proposed oil and gas lease sale, we were worried about what that would do to our farm and our livelihood.

After many community meetings and thousands of public comment letters, the BLM deferred the lease sale. Then they deferred it a second time in 2013. But it has only been deferred and not cancelled.

I think we should take as much of the public land across the North Fork Valley off the table as we can so that my kids and future generations of Gillespies are able to raise sheep, pigs, chickens, cows, hay, silage, vegetables and grains like we do now. Oil and gas drilling just isn't compatible with our organic farm and the way we choose to run it.

I was surprised to read that the county commissioners are supporting legislative protection for the North Fork Valley's public lands in the article in last week's DCI, "County outlines lease exchange position."

As I understand it, the area proposed for a lease exchange is nearby to existing leases and infrastructure. I'd rather not have drilling happen up valley or on the Grand Mesa, but if it's going to happen, I hope they keep it as minimal as possible. And I hope they put stricter regulations and require best practices where drilling moves forward.

Thank you, Commissioners, for listening to your constituents in the North Fork Valley. We might not agree on everything, but we can agree that the North Fork Valley, with its organic farms, is an important part of Delta County and something worth protecting.

Tom and Lynn
Gillespie
The Living Farm

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