The Bureau of Land Management is considering offering oil and gas leases covering 6,095 acres in its June lease sale, including lands in Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
The Rio Blanco acreage, consisting of four parcels totaling about 1,178 acres, is located southwest of Rangely and northwest of Douglas Pass, near and along the Utah border. The Moffat acreage, totaling nearly 4,200 acres, is along and near the Wyoming border.
Other acreage is being offered in Jackson, Lincoln and Weld counties.
Notably, acreage in Moffat and Jackson counties in greater sage-grouse habitat is being offered consistent with the requirements of 2015 protections the BLM adopted to help keep the bird from being listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The Trump administration since has adopted less-restrictive greater sage-grouse protections in Colorado and other states. In October, however, a federal judge issued an injunction barring the BLM from implementing those eased measures pending the outcome of an ongoing suit challenging them, meaning the 2015 measures continue to apply.
Some of the protections that would apply to some of the lease acreage include:
n no construction, drilling or well completions within four miles of active sage-grouse leks, or breeding grounds, during breeding, nesting and early-brood-rearing seasons;
n no surface occupancy on lease acreage within two miles of active leks;
n in priority habitats, limits on surface disturbance to 3 % of acreage and one infrastructure facility per square mile.
The Rio Blanco acreage would be offered with provisions to protect things such as big-game habitat and “to maintain the occupancy, integrity, and extent of white-tailed prairie dog habitat in support of a reintroduced population of federally endangered black-footed ferret and to minimize the risk of adverse impacts imposed on black-footed ferrets or their habitat,” according to a BLM.
The BLM is taking initial public comments on the proposal through Jan. 15, to hear about issues it should consider in environmental analysis.
A 30-day public comment period on that draft analysis will occur later.
More information on the proposal may be found at https://go.usa.gov/xpFn6.