Economic Impact of Natural Gas Development on Delta County


Media Contact: Natasha Léger, Interim Executive Director 970-399-9700,

July 3, 2017, Paonia, Colorado — Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC) discovered in the first-ever economic study of the North Fork Valley that a proposed gas development project poses a risk of a significant economic cost to Delta County.  The nationally-recognized local economy, which is successfully transitioning away from extractive industries and built on organic and sustainable agriculture, recreation, creative arts, ranching, and tourism, makes a large contribution to the County’s tax revenue base. The study, Economic Impact Of Natural Gas Development On Delta County, found that a proposed large-scale fracking project could result in a major negative impact on this contribution to Delta County’s sales and property tax revenue. It could also threaten the abundant clean air and water upon which this community depends and in turn result in a potential 26% decrease in Delta County residential property tax revenue and the sales taxes generated from recreation and hunting.

North Fork Valley residential real estate has been outperforming Delta County in average home sale prices for the last 5 years by an average of 11.5%. The NFV’s $600 million dollar market value of residential and agricultural real estate results in $2.25 million in property tax revenue to the County, which amounts to 16% of the County’s 2016 property taxes revenues. “We have always known that the brand recognition of the valley around the state, country and the world for its healthy living lifestyle makes it an economic engine for the County, but we were astounded to learn how much we really contribute” said David Inouye, CHC Board Chair. “This analysis shows that the County’s argument that oil and gas development is needed to make up for lost coal jobs is simply unsupported”, he added.

In addition to property taxes, the study reveals that 19% of the County’s sales tax revenue is attributed to recreation, and agritourism. “Outdoor recreation and sustainable agriculture create far more jobs than the oil and gas industry, far more multiplier effects for a resilient economy, without the long term irreparable damage that the oil and gas industry inevitably leaves behind,” said Alison Gannett of Holy Terror Farm in Paonia.

While North Fork Valley residents have been fighting to prevent the industrialization of the valley with large-scale fracking projects, the Delta County Commissioners have dismissed the concerns of these citizens and supported oil and gas development on the public lands that make this valley so special and unique. Last year, garnering national attention, the Bureau of Land Management received 42,000 comments on its draft Resource Management Plan asking for protection of the North Fork Valley with a no leasing alternative, out of a total of 53,000 comments, an unprecedented number.

Just recently, on the proposed 35-well North Fork Mancos Master Development Plan, the BLM received another unprecedented 8,000 comments about requiring an Environmental Assessment, with over two-thirds of those comments in opposition to the project.

This study shows that the County’s anticipated short-term benefits from oil and gas development are far outweighed by the overall financial costs. “Now that the County has this economic information, it has the opportunity to develop a master plan that is aligned with the future growth of the County,” said Gannett.

Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC) is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the air, water and foodsheds of Delta County, Southwest Colorado from the impacts of oil and gas development. CHC is located in the North Fork Valley of Colorado, which is home to the largest concentration of organic farms in the state. Learn more at