US agency 
to proceed with sale of GarCo, Mesa leases

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday said it will proceed with a Dec. 7 oil and gas lease sale involving nearly 27,300 acres in Mesa and Garfield counties.

The sale involves more than 22,000 acres in Mesa County and nearly 5,000 in Garfield County.

Much of the Mesa acreage lies below the Bookcliffs north of Mack and Loma, on both sides of Colorado Highway 139. Other parcels are west of Parachute and De Beque and near Molina.

Altogether, 28 parcels will be offered. Most of the acreage covers public lands, with about 800 acres involving federal minerals beneath private land.

All but one parcel are within the 700,000 acres of the Shale Ridges and Canyons master leasing plan, created in the resource management plan adopted by the BLM’s Grand Junction Field Office in 2015.

The agency previously decided to defer leasing on more than 2,000 acres within three parcels because they have lands with wilderness characteristics and require more evaluation.

Groups including the Wilderness Society have raised concerns involving other parcels, including over whether they should be managed for wilderness characteristics and whether oil and gas leasing would preclude solar energy development in what the BLM has identified as solar-energy emphasis areas.

The BLM says solar and oil and gas can coexist on the same acreage. It also previously has found that some lands of concern to The Wilderness Society either don’t meet the criteria of lands with wilderness characteristics, or shouldn’t be managed to protect those characteristics.

“Each lease, if issued, will contain stipulations and best management practices designed to address air quality and water resources while ensuring safe and environmentally responsible development,” the BLM said in a news release. “As part of leasing reform, the BLM may modify lease stipulations to accommodate site-specific resources.”

The public can protest the leasing of any of the parcels through Oct. 9.

Alex Daue of The Wilderness Society said his group remains disappointed that the BLM failed “to appropriately analyze the potential impacts to solar development and a host of other resources.”

He said his group will be talking with partners about the possibility of filing a protest.

Protests must be submitted to the BLM Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield St., Lakewood, CO 80215. Information about the planned sale may be found at http://www.blm.gov/colorado/oil-gas.


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