Geothermal bidder wants to save camp

The owner of a Christian youth camp said it was trying to protect the facility when it offered the winning bid Wednesday in Colorado’s first Bureau of Land Management geothermal lease sale in decades.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Young Life, 3E Geothermal LLC, paid $29,600, or $37 per acre, to lease about 800 acres for the parcel near Buena Vista.

Young Life spokesman Terry Swenson said the organization has no immediate plans for developing the lease. But it wants to be able to minimize the impact of any geothermal project in the area of Young Life’s Frontier Ranch, which occupies much of the acreage that was offered for lease.

Steve Lundgren, the camp’s manager, said in a statement from the Colorado Springs-based organization, “We did not want to be in a situation where other parties would have the ability to scar the landscape that is so critical to giving our guests a great camping experience.”

Young Life said acquiring the lease also is an opportunity to be a good neighbor to those concerned about geothermal development in the area.

BLM spokeswoman Vanessa Delgado said the agency must address 16 protests of the lease before it can be issued.

Young Life would have 10 years to develop and make beneficial use of the geothermal resource, or the lease would be terminated.

The use could involve commercial development, but also purposes such as heating a building or a pool, BLM spokesman Steven Hall said.

Young Life’s winning bid came as good news to Harold Palmer, who owns property in the area of the 800-acre parcel. He said he and others who opposed the geothermal leasing had talked about bidding for the lease.

“We figured it would go for a … lot more than we can afford,” he said.

Palmer uses hot-water wells to heat two homes in the vicinity. He has worried about the possible impact of a large-scale geothermal power plant on geothermal resources and drinking-water wells. Plus, a plant would be noisy, and the parcel is near the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.

Much of the parcel is private land, but the BLM was auctioning off the right to develop the federally owned geothermal resource.

The BLM offered a geothermal lease in 1982 in the Poncha Springs area, but Delgado said she doesn’t believe anyone purchased it.

She said a handful of bidders participated in Wednesday’s auction.

Representatives with Mount Princeton Geothermal LLC, which had been interested in leasing the parcel to develop a power plant, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.


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