The Bureau of Land Management plans to proceed with offering nearly 83,000 acres in its December Colorado oil and gas lease sale, including some 2,800 acres in the North Fork Valley that some had sought to have pulled from the sale.
The agency posted its notice of the sale Friday. It is subject to a 10-day protest period.
The town of Paonia, local activists, Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet were among those seeking to have the North Fork Valley acreage deferred from being leased, pending completion of a new resource management plan by the BLM's Uncompahgre Field Office.
Last week, the BLM pulled nearly 150,000 acres of parcels containing greater sage-grouse habitat from the sale, as had been requested by Hickenlooper. Conservation groups say the BLM has pulled more than 1 million acres of sage-grouse habitat in several states from December sales to comply with a federal court order pertaining to the BLM's curtailment of public comment opportunities related to sales containing such habitat.
The North Fork acreage is near Paonia Reservoir and lands contiguous to national forest roadless areas.
"President Trump and Secretary Ryan Zinke are continuing to show their contempt for local input, as well as ignoring concerns from Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Bennet, as they disregard the legitimate concerns of how drilling could damage Paonia and the North Fork Valley's thriving and growing organic agriculture industry," Scott Braden with Conservation Colorado said in a news release Friday.
Gunnison Energy nominated the acreage for leasing. The company has said it hopes to acquire the leases to facilitate horizontal well development where it already has existing federal lease units, or groups of leases.
The wells would be drilled out, down and then laterally, and the additional acreage would help it drill longer horizontal wells, meaning it could reduce the number of wells and well pads required, the company says.
The BLM says protests must be received by 4 p.m. Nov. 5. They must be sent to the Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield St., Lakewood, CO 80215, or faxed to 303-239-3799. Protests sent by email won't be accepted, and ones filed late or without a statement of reasons will be dismissed, the agency says.