Drilling near New Castle to get focus
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
NEW CASTLE, Colo. ” Susan Will says her heart lies with the wildlife in Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area.
That’s why Will, who lives near the wildlife area, has been alerting her neighbors to a meeting the Colorado Division of Wildlife has organized about future drilling that is expected to occur in the habitat near New Castle, located just west of Glenwood Springs, this summer.
“My true love is for the wildlife,” said Will, 51. “I have lived near there for a long time. Seeing all the wildlife is just awesome. I just don’t want that to go away. That is the only place that is left for them. (Companies) have drilled everything else.”
The DOW will host an informational meeting Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area hay shed, 3321 Garfield County Road 312, about drilling in the area.
Denver-based Orion Energy Partners plans to drill one exploratory gas well and install a pipeline in the wildlife area in the summer, according to a letter from the DOW. Representatives from the company have been invited to the meeting to help answer questions about the company’s development plan.
“As a severed rights surface owner, the DOW has very little control over drilling operations; however we would like to update local citizens about the efforts that have been undertaken by the agency to address wildlife concerns,” according to the DOW letter.
According to the letter, Orion Energy Partners obtained the mineral rights to drill in the wildlife area from Gene Hilton, who owns the minerals below the surface.
“I have talked to the people at Orion,” Will said. ” They are very accommodating. They are working closely with the Division of Wildlife.”
In a letter, Will wrote that she just wants to ask Orion to help the DOW find a better way that won’t destroy the wildlife habitat that is so important.”
Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the DOW, said the agency has received a lot of calls from local residents in the area and from sportsmen who were concerned about drilling in the area.
“We had questions about why we didn’t stop it,” Hampton said. “We certainly wanted to explain to people the issue that we are a severed-rights owner and that companies can drill, and that as a surface owner, we don’t have a lot of control over that. We want to explain that to people, as well as explain what we have done to work with the company.”
Hampton said the agency has been reviewing Orion’s energy plan and discussed the placement of the drilling well pad with the company.
Earlier this year, the DOW also lodged a protest against the sale of a federal mineral lease parcel underneath in the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area. The BLM, while deferring the sale of three leases at the request of the DOW, sold a 360-acre parcel for $2,400 an acre in February. That parcel, along with 34 other properties, were under protest in the Feb. 14 lease sale. The DOW protested the sale of 27 parcels, all of which were spread out over the state.
The DOW could not block the sale of the mineral lease underneath the habitat area because the agency didn’t own the rights to it. The protest the DOW placed has yet to be resolved.