Unprecedented energy development across parts of the West now threatens 10 of the most important fish and wildlife habitats on U.S. public land, according to Sportsmen for Responsible Energy, a coalition led by the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

In a report issued last week, the coalition, which includes more than 500 businesses, organizations and individuals, said that over the past decade, a surge in “poorly planned” energy development has transformed “huge” tracts of public land in five states:

“Between 2000 and 2008, the number of permits to develop oil and gas tripled, and an estimated 126,000 new wells are planned for the next 20 years,” the report noted. “Another 26 million acres — an area larger than Ohio — are already leased for development.”

Sportsmen “appreciate how important energy is to our country,” said the report. “But oil and gas drilling that pays little regard to fish, wildlife and other resources is unacceptable. Fortunately, many of the worst aspects of energy development can be avoided with careful planning.”

Included in the report are recommendations on how state and federal agencies may work together to develop energy without losing recreational opportunities or the estimated $7 billion that hunting and fishing contributes to the western economy every year.

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