Regional oil, gas leasing proposed

The Bureau of Land Management has proposed leasing 1,136 acres in November for oil and gas development in the Plateau Valley.

However, it is putting off a decision on whether to offer some 13,000 other acres in Mesa and Garfield counties so that possible environmental protections can be considered.

Parties initially nominated 25 parcels totaling more than 14,000 acres in the two counties for leasing in the November sale. Much of the acreage deferred for leasing is on both sides of Interstate 70 near the Garfield-Mesa county line, and in far western Garfield County, including in the Douglas Pass area.

The BLM Grand Junction Field Office said in a preliminary environmental review of the nominated parcels that it was deferring most of them because they fall within an area recommended by environmental groups for a master leasing plan.

“These recommendations were made to promote proactive approaches to manage energy development in an area that supports other federal and local priorities. …” the office said in its review.

Those priorities include protection of the greater sage grouse, the white-tailed prairie dog, the Colorado hookless cactus and areas proposed by environmental groups for wilderness designation. The Colorado hookless cactus is listed as a threatened species, and the greater sage grouse is a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The BLM in Colorado has committed to consider, in resource management plan updates going on throughout the state, whether master leasing plans are appropriate in areas where they are being recommended. It allows for leasing in such areas sooner where the agency has visited the sites to review them, but the BLM couldn’t conduct those visits in time to include the parcels in the November lease sale. It expects to review the parcels later.

The agency proposes proceeding with leasing four parcels in the Plateau Valley on 366 acres of federal land and 770 acres of private land with federally owned mineral rights. Two of the parcels are north of Coll- bran. Two are east of Mesa.

The BLM also is proposing to offer 12 nominated acres southwest of Silt for leasing in November, along with 802 acres in western Montrose County and 40 acres in the North Fork Valley in Gunnison County.

Public comments on the proposals are being accepted through early July. Information on all the proposals may be found at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/oilandgas/leasing.html.


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