BLM ensures wildlife area-drilling won’t mean surface disturbances
December 3, 2008
NEW CASTLE, Colo. ” In the wake of the discovery that one gas lease in the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area did not have a requirement that guarded against surface disturbances, the Bureau of Land Management has checked other leases in the area.
But the agency’s search did not turn up any other lease that lacked a no-surface-occupancy stipulation, said David Boyd, a spokesman for the BLM. That stipulation requires companies to extract natural gas from other areas to minimize surface disturbances.
“We reviewed all existing federal leases within the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area, and no other inconsistencies with the stipulations were found,” he said.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife, which owns the surface of the 13,234-acre habitat south of New Castle, had expressed concerns that the discovery of a lease without an NSO stipulation could mean there were other leases in the area that did not have that surface protection.
“We appreciate the fact the BLM has gone back and checked all of those leases,” said Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the agency. “We will continue to work with the agency on the issue of future protections for Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area and a resolution of the error that has been discovered.”
The discovery of the lease problem came to light last month when Colorado Division of Wildlife officials met with representatives of Dejour Energy USA, a unit of Dejour Enterprises Ltd., a Canadian company, which is planning to develop its federal lease in the wildlife area.
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During that meeting, Dejour officials showed that the federal lease below the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area did not have a NSO stipulation.
That requirement is critical for the wildlife area, DOW officials have said, because it is the last contiguous piece of winter range for deer and elk in a hunting unit that stretches south of Interstate 70 from Grand Mesa east of Grand Junction to Glenwood Springs.
Amendments to the BLM’s Glenwood Springs resource management plan in addressing oil and gas development in the area, which were completed in 1991 and 1999, require a NSO stipulation for any new federal mineral lease within the 13,234-acre habitat. Dejour Energy’s 1,520-acre lease was issued in 2001.
Boyd said the agency is currently in discussions with Dejour Energy USA about the inconsistency in its lease.