The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety has announced the availability of the Forest Service's draft record of decision and supplemental final Environmental Impact Statement for two federal coal lease modifications and an on-lease exploration plan for West Elk Coal Mine. Ark Land, LLC and Mountain Coal Company, LLC requested the modifications to expand their existing coal leases by a total 1,720 acres located near Somerset.
Three alternatives were considered in detail during the environmental analysis. After reviewing numerous comments from the public and input from natural resource specialists, the draft decision would consent to both proposed lease modifications with stipulations for the protection of non-mineral, surface resources. The Bureau of Land Management will decide whether or not to grant lease modifications or to authorize on-lease exploration consistent with lease terms.
Most of the area is part of the Sunset Colorado Roadless Area under the Colorado Roadless Rule; however, it is situated within the North Fork Coal Mining Area, which provides for construction of temporary roads and other short-term disturbances related to underground coal mining.
The draft decision is subject to a 45-day objection period, beginning the day the legal notice is published in the Federal Register, Sept. 8, and ending at midnight, Oct. 23. Objections will only be accepted from those who have previously submitted timely and specific written comments regarding the proposed project during scoping or other designated opportunities for public comment.
More details about the objection process, the draft ROD and the SFEIS will also be available online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=32459.
The election results are in at the local, state and national level, and as expected, Democrats are doing well in state and national races. Colorado has elected Jared Polis as governor; nationally the Republicans appear to retain control of the Senate while Democrats now control the House of Representative.
With a ballot full of local and state measures, voter turnout in Delta County topped 71%, with 15,889 ballots cast. Statewide, voter turnout was just over 52%.
Of the three Delta County residents seeking state offices, Matt Soper won over Thea Chase in State Representative Dist. 54; Mike Mason lost to Julie McCluskie in State Representative Dist. 61; and Olen Lund lost to Kerry Donovan in State Senate Dist. 5.
Locally, in the City of Delta voters rejected a .5% sales tax increase to fund recreation, as well as recreational marijuana sales. The sale of medical marijuana and cultivation/manufacturing facilities was approved by a slim margin. Delta voters also gave the city the green light to move forward with selling or trading the Cottonwood and Riverbend Park, and to sell the old Municipal Light and Power Building.