Public feedback sought on gas plan

RBC I The Bureau of Land Management is asking for the public’s help in shaping the future management of oil and natural gas development in northwestern Colorado’s Piceance Basin, a place rich in both energy and wildlife resources.
The BLM’s White River Field Office in Meeker recently released for public review and comment a draft plan outlining multiple alternatives for managing the expected increase in oil and natural gas development on the 1.7 million acres of federal mineral resources it manages.
It’s called the White River Resource Management Plan Oil and Gas Development Amendment. It looks at the potential impact of this anticipated development and proposes various options for mitigating those impacts.
Oil and natural gas development is important to this area — BLM estimates that development within the White River Field Office alone during the next 20 years could result in 8,000 new jobs in northwestern Colorado. But also vitally important are the area’s wildlife and environmental resources.
With most of the area already leased, BLM’s task is to find innovative ways for managing this increasing development while minimizing impacts to wildlife and other sensitive resources.
BLM has worked hard with its cooperators to develop a range of alternatives for this management. Now we are asking the public to weigh-in on the four alternatives detailed in this plan, which examine a range of development scenarios from 550 new multi-well pads to about 2,550 new multi-well pads.
Although we have identified a preferred alternative, the entire range of alternatives is on the table, and our final choice will likely be a blend of more than one alternative discussed.
Public comment on the alternatives plays a large role in what we ultimately decide, so I encourage you to take a look at the plan. Specific comments are the most effective. Tell us what you like and don’t like in each alternative, and why. Is there important information we have not considered? Let us know.
While the plan and supporting documents are available on-line at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/wrfo.html, a great way to learn more and have your questions answered is to come to one of the open house meetings we are holding throughout the region next week.
Stop by anytime between 4 and 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in Meeker at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds, Sept 25 in Rangely at the Colorado Northwestern Community College Weiss Building, Sept. 26 in Silt at the BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office, or Sept 27 in Grand Junction at the Clarion Inn.
We’ll have brief presentations at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day, and a wide variety of specialists available to tell you more about the draft plan. We’ll take written comment at the meetings, or you can take the information with you and provide comments after you’ve had time to thoroughly review the information. The public comment period closes Dec. 14, 2012.
We want to hear from you, so I hope you’ll have a few minutes to stop by an open house or review the plan on-line. This is an important opportunity to be involved in how oil and natural gas development takes place over the next two decades within the White River Field Office.

Kent Walter has been the Field Manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s White River Field Office in Meeker since 2001. The White River Field Office manages nearly 1.5 million acres of public lands and 1.7 million acres of federal minerals in Rio Blanco, Moffat, and Garfield counties.