BLM Defers North Fork Leases, For Now
by Peter Shelton
Feb 06, 2013 | 1119 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Oil and Gas Parcels Are Still On the Table



NORTH FORK VALLEY – In a decision that surprised many, the Bureau of Land Management announced on Wednesday, Feb. 6, that it was removing all 20 controversial North Fork Valley parcels from an oil and gas lease sale scheduled to take place Feb. 14.

The decision is technically a “deferral,” said Citizens for a Healthy Community Director Jim Ramey, in a release. “The nominated parcels remain on the table and can be offered again for sale at any time by the BLM.”

But the news comes as relief to valley residents, who had argued vociferously, in the streets, on lobbying trips to Washington, D.C., and, in a widely read article by Jack Healy in last week’s Sunday New York Times, that some places really should be spared altogether from the industrialization of oil and gas development. And the North Fork, with its small-town character, rural way of life, scenic beauty and organic farming and ranching, is one of those places.

In its own press release Wednesday morning, the BLM said the 20 parcels (comprising 20,555 acres on the outskirts of the towns of Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford) were being deferred from the quarterly lease sale, which nevertheless goes forward, in Denver next week, with the leasing of 151 parcels totaling more than 88,000 acres across Colorado.

BLM State Director Helen Hankin, who visited the three North Fork towns for meetings two weeks ago, wrote: “We’ve listened to concerns raised in numerous comments and public meetings and we are responding by deferring the North Fork parcels at this time. We are addressing the deferred parcels through continued dialogue with the local community and with ongoing planning efforts in the Uncompahgre Field Office.”

The Uncompahgre Field Office is currently revising it nearly 30-year-old Resource Management Plan.

pshelton@watchnewspapers.com

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