National forest seeks comment on gas plan | AspenTimes.com

National forest seeks comment on gas plan

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The U.S. Forest Service made an oil-and-gas leasing plan for the White River National Forest available online Thursday, and it will accept public comments on the proposal until Oct. 31.

A draft environmental impact statement for the plan identifies lands available for leasing and creates stipulations to protect surface resources.

“A vital part of the planning process for this complex and controversial project is to gather public input,” said White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams in a prepared statement. “The (draft impact statement) lays out four alternatives for consideration, which were developed after analyzing public comments during initial outreach efforts. Now we are ready to listen to public comment again as we move into the next phase of this process.”

The Forest Service has identified a proposed action among the four alternatives. The proposal would reduce the land available for leasing to 260,308 acres. The amount of land that is off-limits to gas and oil companies would soar to 1.22 million acres that would be closed through management practices and 800,555 acres closed legally.

The proposed action also would increase the restrictions on surface activity on additional acres of the forest.

The draft plan is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.

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The Forest Service is asking for public comment by Oct. 31. Comments go to Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor, White River National Forest, P.O. Box 1919, Sacramento, CA 95812. Email comments to wrnfoilangascomments@fscomments.org. Fax comments to 916-456-6742. Comments should include: (1) name, address, telephone number and organization represented, if any; (2) title of the document on which the comment is being submitted (White River National Forest Draft Oil and Gas Leasing EIS); and (3) specific facts and supporting reasons for the responsible official to consider.