Recreation-energy balance for land vital, official says

New rules governing oil and gas leasing on federal lands will likely involve greater public participation in leasing, the new head of the state office of the Bureau of Land Management said.

Helen Hankins, who was appointed in February to head the Colorado office of the bureau, said the department’s new approach to be announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar likely will involve a great emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to leasing within the bureau, Hankins said.

The bureau will have to find the way to balance the nation’s needs for energy and preserving recreational uses of the public lands, Hankins said.

“If we don’t involve the public, we won’t get it right,” she said.

The extraction of natural gas and coal mining in Colorado last year contributed about $560 million to federal coffers, Hankins said. At the same time, recreation was a $1 billion industry in Colorado, Hankins said.

“We must continue development of conventional fuels,” in Colorado, Hankins said.

At the same time, “You all have a special place” in Colorado that people hope to share with their children and grandchildren, she said.

Under her leadership, the bureau will seek balance between energy development and recreational and conservation values, she said.

Hankins began her career in Albuquerque, N.M., as a clerk typist and over the course of 35 years worked in Washington, D.C., Durango and on the North Slope of Alaska as a district geologist.

Hankins, who has hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, planned to hike in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area later Saturday.


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