Saving Colorado’s South Shale Ridge

South Shale Ridge features multicolored badlands with remarkable geological formations hidden within miles of twisting canyons. The area is popular for backcountry recreation such as hiking, and its wildlife provides good opportunities for hunting. In addition, South Shale Ridge is home to the bald eagle and extremely rare plants.

Case Overview

Colorado’s South Shale Ridge is a beautiful maze of twisting canyons and multicolored badlands. Hikers and hunters delight in its wildness, where bald eagles fly overhead and rare plants grow on the canyon floors.

For years, the South Shale Ridge was on a trajectory to becoming designated wilderness. But in 2005, in an about face, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leased almost the entire area for oil and gas drilling.

Earthjustice went to court on behalf of national and Colorado conservation groups to defend the Ridge from destruction. In 2007, a U.S. district court judge ruled in favor of the groups by declaring that the government must study the impact of drilling on the region’s wild resources before selling leases.

A bald eagle.

Case Updates

August 6, 2007 Press Release: Victory

Judge Halts Oil and Gas Development in Colorado Proposed Wilderness

Ruling protects wilderness qualities and rare plants from harmful drilling

June 28, 2007 Press Release

Earthjustice Argues Against BLM Flip-flop on Colorado Leases

Agency accused in federal court of breaking promise to protect wilderness

June 28, 2007 document

Briefing for South Shale Ridge leasing challenge 6/28/2007

This is the briefing for Earthjustice's suit challenging BLM's oil and gas leasing in South Shale Ridge