After a nice respite from oil and gas development issues, a large crowd gathered at Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss to hear updates by Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC) and Western Slope Conservation Center about the North Fork Alternative Plan for the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Uncompahgre Resource Management Plan (RMP). That meeting was on Oct. 29.
But the really big news came in the form of a press release from CHC on Nov. 1.
BLM announced that the North Fork Alternative Plan will be "a possible option in the draft" RMP.
"The details of how the BLM plans to include our proposal within the RMP have not yet been made available," Jim Ramey, CHC director, writes. "Just because the BLM has said they will consider the North Fork Alternative doesn't mean that they will adopt its recommendations into the final version of the RMP."
The BLM actually sent out its press release on Oct. 28 concerning the inclusion of the North Fork Alternative Plan in the draft RMP. "We appreciate the time and effort that our partners, cooperators and staff have put into completing the analysis, and are committed to providing a draft document for public review next year," said Jerry Strahan, acting Uncompahgre field manager. "The BLM remains committed to an open, public planning process that examines a full range of alternatives for managing the public's land."
The last time the RMP was updated for this area was in 1989. A lot has changed since then and it was overdue for a revision.
Ramey explained, "Since these documents determine how public lands are used for decades, it's very important that the BLM gets it right and selects smart management that will protect the North Fork from the threats of risky oil and gas drilling and fracking."
At the Oct. 29 meeting, Ramey said the draft RMP may come out for comment in February.
People at the meeting were encouraged to sign up as volunteers to help with the efforts to convince the BLM to adopt the North Fork Alternative Plan.
Ramey gave an update on oil and gas development proposals. SG Interests wants to develop 146 gas wells in the Upper North Fork Valley. Located in the 20,000-acre Bull Mountain Unit, the wells would be half coal bed methane and the other half shale gas. The BLM is preparing the draft Environmental Impact Statement.
A second master development plan is proposed by Petrox for 50 gas wells in the Somerset Unit. This is located west of the Paonia Reservoir.
Fram has a proposal for 108 oil wells in the northern half of the Whitewater Unit. This, Ramey said, is "the largest drilling unit in the state." The project is being reviewed by the Grand Junction BLM office.
The Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act was introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet in the U.S. Senate this past March. He is also taking comment on management recommendations for Gunnison County public lands.
The North Fork Alternative Plan will be presented to the Delta County Commissioners on Nov. 12. The public is welcome.
For more information on the plan visit www.TheConservationCenter.org or www.CitizensForAHealthyCommunity.org.blog comments powered by Disqus