BLM offices release management plan proposals
Bureau of Land Management offices in Silt and Kremmling have released management plan proposals that include a master oil and gas leasing plan covering nearly 400,000 acres and a wild and scenic river recommendation.
The leasing plan isn’t part of the proposal by the Silt-based Colorado River Valley Field Office, however, despite that office being in Garfield County, home to the second-highest number of wells in the state. Rather, it’s in North Park, a less-drilled area in Jackson County, east of Steamboat Springs.
The river proposal applies to Deep Creek, a gorge near the northeastern end of Glenwood Canyon.
The Colorado River Valley and Kremmling field offices have released proposed resource management plans that the agency says balance potential oil and gas and other resource uses with protection of wildlife habitat and other sensitive resources.
Before final decisions can be made, the proposals are subject to 30-day protest periods that end April 21 for the Kremmling plan and April 27 for the Colorado River Valley plan. They also undergo 60-day reviews by the state Governor’s Office.
The plans govern management by the field offices for the next 20 years. The Colorado River Valley office covers more than 500,000 acres of land and more than 700,000 acres of subsurface mineral estate in Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Pitkin, Rio Blanco and Routt counties.
The Kremmling plan covers 377,900 surface acres and 653,500 acres of subsurface mineral estate in Grand, Jackson, Routt, Summit, Larimer and Eagle counties.
Within the Colorado River Valley office’s jurisdiction, the majority of the 147,500 acres with high potential for oil and gas production are already leased, and they would continue producing under the proposed plan, the BLM says.
That office proposes closing 98,100 acres to future leasing, covering areas such as state wildlife areas, acreage managed for wilderness characteristics, municipal acreage, the Deep Creek segments deemed suitable for wild and scenic status, and designated recreation areas or areas of critical environmental concern.
Kremmling’s North Park master leasing plan covers about 390,600 acres of federal minerals, nearly 160,000 of which already are leased, and seeks to facilitate oil and gas development while protecting wildlife, air and water and other resources.
Besides recommending wild and scenic river status for Deep Creek, the BLM is proposing protection of some acreage in the Deep Creek area for existing wilderness characteristics. The Colorado River Valley office proposes such protection for five areas totaling 34,400 acres altogether, including a small amount of Thompson Creek outside Carbondale, part of a vast greater Thompson Creek area that activists are trying to protect from drilling.
The Colorado River Valley plan would designate about 675 miles of routes for motorized use and 587 for nonmotorized use.
The Kremmling plan provides 1,637 miles of roads and trails and two designated off-highway vehicle open “play areas.” Public access activist Brandon Siegfried of Grand Junction has objected to what he says would be closure of 55 percent of public rights of way in the Kremmling plan.