Group holding hearing on oil, gas lease proposal

A citizens group says it will conduct its own public hearing on proposed oil and gas leasing in the North Fork Valley after the Bureau of Land Management declined to hold one.

Citizens for a Healthy Community scheduled the event for Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at Hotchkiss High School. It said in a news release that state Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, will preside over the event.

The BLM proposed offering leases covering 30,000 acres in an August lease sale. Citizens for a Healthy Community said a number of citizen and other organizations were turned down when they asked Barbara Sharrow, manager of the BLM’s Uncompahgre Field Office, to hold a local public hearing so citizens could voice their concerns. It said it decided to hold its own hearing because of the proposal’s size and scope.

BLM spokesman Steven Hall said the agency will provide public-meeting opportunities, but that will come later in the process when there is a more specific proposal to consider.

“This right now is not really the time,” he said.

The BLM is accepting written comments to help it prepare a draft environmental assessment on the proposal.

Citizens for a Healthy Community and other groups already held community meetings on the lease proposal in Crawford, Hotchkiss and Paonia and say more than 1,000 people attended.


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