“We’ve listened to concerns raised in numerous comments and public meetings and we are
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced Wednesday, February 6 that it would be deferring all 20 North Fork Valley parcels from its February 14 oil and gas lease sale in response to a flood of comments from the public.
“We’ve listened to concerns raised in numerous comments and public meetings and we are responding by deferring the North Fork Valley parcels at this time,” Colorado State Director Helen Hankins said in a statement. “We are addressing the deferred parcels through continued dialogue with the local community and with ongoing planning efforts in the Uncompahgre Field Office(UFO).”
Those efforts include a revision of the 1989 Resource Management Plan for areas within the UFO’s jurisdiction, including the North Fork Valley. The outdated RMP was a source of frustration for many groups opposed to the leasing of those parcels. A draft of an updated version should be available for public review sometime this summer.
In the meantime, Paonia-based Citizens for a Healthy Community director Jim Ramey said, “It’s a very happy day for a lot of folks here in the North Fork. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the BLM for finally making the right decision on behalf of the farmers, ranchers and residents who live in the North Fork Valley while they look at the severe impacts drilling would have on the local economy.”
Federal oil and gas parcels offered for lease are nominated by oil and gas companies and then reviewed by the BLM to determine the appropriateness of potential development. After its own review of the parcels being offered up for lease, CHC prepared to file a lawsuit to stop the 20 parcels from being offered.
Gunnison County also had concerns about the practicality of drilling wells on several of the nine parcels that were being considered for development within the County’s boundaries. In a letter to the BLM, the board of county commissioners asked that the lease sale be delayed until more analysis could be done in the areas of concern.
“This decision is consistent with our reform efforts that emphasize a comprehensive approach to oil and gas leasing so as to ensure that energy development occurs in the appropriate places,” acting BLM director Mike Pool said in the statement. “I want to thank Helen Hankins for her leadership and efforts to work closely with local communities as this moves forward.”
The BLM’s quarterly oil and gas lease sale will be held on February 14 at the BLM Colorado State Office, which is located at 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, Colo 80215.