BLM proposes no drilling for Vermillion Basin

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is proposing protecting the 77,000-acre Vermillion Basin from energy development.

The agency said today that under its upcoming resource management plan proposal for its Little Snake Field Office in Craig, oil and gas development would continue to be permitted for most of the lands and mineral estate administered by the office.

The agency said the Vermillion Basin is one of the larger contiguous blocks of public land not already leased for oil and gas development in northwestern Colorado, and is valued for its remoteness and wilderness characteristics.

The BLM’s approach on the Vermillion marks a shift from its preferred draft proposal, which would have opened the entire basin to drilling under a restrictive approach.

BLM Colorado director Helen Hankins said in a news release that the proposal “presents a very balanced and responsible approach to oil and gas leasing and development.”

“It reflects the common-sense approach of pursuing continued development in areas that are already leased, while protecting areas like the Vermillion that communities enjoy for its backcountry experience and its signature beauty,” she said.

More than 1 million acres are now leased for oil and gas in the Little Snake Field Office, and less than 15 percent of those leases have been developed.

The proposal covers 1.3 million acres of BLM land and 1.1 million acres of federal subsurface mineral estate in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.


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