BLM Releases Plan for NW Colorado
According to the Denver Post, federal land managers Monday unveiled their new plan for balancing oil-and-gas exploration and other uses across 2.4 million acres of northwestern Colorado.
The plan will open 90% of the Little Snake Area to drilling, effective today, while setting limits around sage grouse breeding areas, the Vermillion Basin canyonlands and a 22-mile stretch of the Yampa River that has been deemed suitable for an official “wild and scenic” designation.
“You’ll never have a BLM plan that is loved by everyone because not everyone agrees on the best way to manage public lands,” said BLM spokesman Steven Hall. “This tries to get at the right balance between allowing responsible oil-and-gas development and protecting wildlife habitat.”
No drilling will be allowed within a 0.6-mile radius of sage grouse breeding areas, and disturbances on other critical habitat would have to be minimal. Regulations would limit drilling at sensitive times of year on more than 1 million acres of prime wildlife habitat.
Western Energy Alliance spokeswoman Kathleen Sgamma swiftly denounced the plan, accusing BLM officials of tampering with a previously acceptable plan that communities crafted to allow responsible oil-and-gas development that would have disturbed only 1 percent of the Vermillion Basin area.
“It’s unfortunate that BLM was directed by Washington to ignore a balanced community plan, lock away American energy resources, and prevent jobs and economic growth,” Sgamma said.