Plan with Vermillion drilling closure released

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management this morning released a planning document that includes a controversial proposal to close the 77,000-acre Vermillion Basin northwest of Craig to oil and gas development.

The BLM’s final environmental impact statement and proposed resource management plan for the Little Snake Field Office is now subject to a 30-day public protest period and a 60-day review by the Governor’s Office before a final decision is issued.

The plan covers about 1.3 million acres of BLM lands and 1.1 million more acres of BLM-administered subsurface mineral estate in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.

In late June, the agency revealed that the plan would include a reversal of its previous proposal to allow drilling in the Vermillion Basin. The decision won praise from environmental groups but criticism from local government officials worried about impacts on the economy and tax revenues.

The plan would continue to allow oil and gas development on most lands and for most minerals managed by the BLM, but with new rules to protect sensitive resources.

Besides energy development, the plan addresses other major issues such as habitat for sage grouse and other wildlife, transportation and travel management, and special management areas such as wild and scenic rivers and lands with wilderness character.

More information on the protest period is available at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/lsfo.html or by calling the Little Snake Field Office, (970) 826-5000.



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