BLM considers geothermal leases near Gunnison

Two areas totaling about 9,000 acres have been proposed for leasing for geothermal energy development in southeastern Gunnison County.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is gathering public comment as it begins an environmental analysis of the proposals and determines whether to proceed with the leases.

“We want to hear from the public first before we go forward with any kind of lease,”  BLM spokeswoman Erin Curtis said.

The land is in occupied Gunnison sage grouse habitat, and conservation measures might need to be taken, she said.

Curtis said the acreage is mostly public land and is near Tomichi Dome and the Wuanita Hot Springs.

The BLM isn’t releasing the names of people who nominated the parcels for leasing.

The BLM is planning to hold a public meeting on the proposals from 5 to 8 p.m. March 11 at Western State College. It will include a presentation about geothermal development and an opportunity to provide public feedback.

The BLM had been scheduled to offer its first-ever geothermal lease sale in Colorado last month, for 799 acres near Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort outside Buena Vista. However, it postponed the sale for the third time, most recently to conduct further environmental review as a result of public comments.

The BLM and state Department of Natural Resources also are working on an agreement aimed at clarifying and coordinating regulatory review of geothermal proposals.


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