COLORADO — New regulations for oil and gas rules are now protecting millions of acres of wildlife habitat across the state. The rule, which went into place on January 15th, was created to ensure wildlife has room to roam while balancing the need for development in Colorado.

The organization, Rocky Mountain Wild, mapped out the new rules and overlaid them with ongoing wildlife concerns to learn about the impacts and benefits to wildlife. This map shows the additional 5 and a half million acres of land are off-limits for oil and gas drilling under these news regulations. 

“We’re seeing species disappear from our lands at a hundred to a thousand times faster than they ever have in the past,” Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Wild Tehri Parker said.

The areas were chosen because they’re critical for wildlife migration, riparian areas, or habitat for endangered species. Some of the at-risk animals in these protected areas include the state’s symbolic Bighorn Sheep, the Colorado Pikeminnow, Gunnison Sage-Grouse and several other endangered species of fish, bird and big game.

The new regulations also outline another 12.7 million acres of land that now require permission from Colorado Parks and Wildlife for drilling and development to happen. 

“Purgatoire Canyon is the home of Colorado’s largest bighorn sheep herd,” Parker said. “It’s a critical area for big games for bighorn sheep in particular. We’re really excited about places like that throughout the state, these little gems, that get protected through these oil and gas rules.”

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will determine where companies can drill without impacting wildlife migration and critical habitats.

“Balancing the oil and gas development here in the state with wildlife is one way to ensure a bright future really for our state,” said Parker.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission developed these regulations to identify where companies can drill and minimize impact to wildlife migration corridors, critical habitats, wetlands, and watersheds.

“They map out a more balanced future for our State where wildlife and industry coexist, and oil and gas companies are held accountable for their impacts. The result is a big win for protecting wildlife, our Colorado way of life, and communities that depend upon clean air, water, and outdoor recreation,” said Rocky Mountain Wild.

Click here for interactive maps that help you explore where critical wildlife areas are in Colorado, areas that are protected from oil and gas drilling in Colorado.