February 14, 2013
On February 12 at the meeting of Park County's Advisory Board for Environment in Fairplay and again on February 13 at the BLM Regional Advisory Council meeting in Golden, the Royal Gorge Field Office Manager, Keith Berger, stated that BLM likely will conduct a master leasing planning process for South Park. We welcome this news after working since our original application on November 4, 2011. However, BLM's intent is to undertake master leasing planning as a part of the overall Resource Management Plan (RMP) revision process. That process will take at least 3-4 years and might not begin until fall of 2014. We are pressing for a master leasing planning process in advance of the RMP revision process. It would benefit the community, BLM and industry.
Here are the comments made by CWF at the BLM's Regional Advisory Council (RAC) meeting on February 13, and below these comments are those made at the RAC meeting by Eddie Kochman and by Misi Ballard, both South Park landowners and CWF members, who have worked hard in the effort to gain master leasing planning.
Colorado Wildlife Federation has advocated MLP for South Park beginning with an application on November 4, 2011. We are pleased that BLM this month has signaled its intention to undertake master leasing planning for South Park
However, BLM also said it intends to conduct an MLP within the future process for revising the 1996 Royal Gorge Field Office (RGFO) Resource Management Plan (RMP). According to the BLM RGFO Manager yesterday, the start of the RMP work is one or two years away depending on funding and will likely be a three to four year process.
Our strong concern is that oil and gas leasing might occur in South Park during this extended interim period of time before completion of the RMP revision. Leasing has occurred elsewhere in Colorado during RMP revision processes. In other areas, Colorado BLM has used its old RMPs during prolonged revision periods to react to industry nominations for leases.
South Park is a unique area of Colorado. The South Park Basin (within the Upper South Platte Watershed) supplies a substantial amount of the drinking water for the metro area through Denver Water and Aurora. This remarkable area features gold medal fisheries, abundant wildlife, vistas, ranching and tourism. South Park also became designated by Congress in 2009 as a national heritage area, recognizing its protected natural resources, historic ranching and mining structures, and archeological sites.
Our request today is two-fold:
First, we urge that MLP be tackled now as a stand alone, rather than lumping development of a South Park MLP into the eventual estimated three to four year RMP process.
Second, we urge that BLM not entertain nominations for leases in South Park before a MLP is in place. The MLP will enable the RGFO to adopt a strategic landscape level approach. Stated differently, the MLP process equips the BLM and the community and other stakeholders to take a careful look at potential conflicts between oil and gas development and drinking water, gold medal fisheries, wildlife, archeological treasures, vistas, etc. Such an approach to MLP also will provide certainty for industry by identifying the lands for leasing which have the least amount of conflict. To lease parcels in the interim simply would undercut the ability to apply the MLP tools effectively.
Are there funds available now specifically for BLM to conduct MLPs ?
Thank you for this important opportunity to provide our comments and recommendations.
Colorado Wildlife Federation
Comments by Eddie Kochman to the BLM RAC on February 13:
Comments by Eddie Kochman to the BLM RAC on February 13:
To: Front Range RAC, Bureau of Land Management
From: Eddie Kochman
P. O Box 224
Fairplay, Colorado 80432
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to members of the Front Range RAC.
Other property owners and citizens of Park County share this objective. Management of the extensive Bureau of Land Management lands in Park County is critical toward achieving this objective.
I am also a member of the Park County Advisory Board on the Environment. The Board of County Commissioners appoints members. The role of the Board is to advise the Commissioners on matters related to the natural environment of Park County, which does include water, air, wildlife and wildlife habitat. We are also concerned about impacts to private property and maintaining the many qualities that make Park County and South Park a very special place.
Such news was very welcome and members of the Advisory Board very much appreciated attendance by both Mr. Berger and Mr. Dvorak
RECOMMENDATIONS TO FRONT RANGE RAC
Amending existing plans, which contain out dated information, especially in relation to water related impacts, should not be an option.
No further leasing of BLM lands should be undertaken until a MLP is completed.
The final design of a MLP should take into consideration recommendations by Park County (including towns), water municipalities, (including Denver Water and Aurora Water), local water authorities United States Forest Service, State of Colorado agencies (including Parks and Wildlife), livestock interests, organized recreational and environmental interests, historical, Native American, mining and oil gas interests and local residents.
The BLM should consider entering into an agreement with Park County and other interests for completion of a MLP. Perhaps there are also options for funding assistance.
There should be a public outreach program developed by the BLM to keep all concerned advised on the progress of designing and implementing a MLP plan
ATTACHED RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING THE CONTENTS OF A MLP
Attached for review is correspondence dated December 5, 2012, which contains my recommendations for MLP contents. I am aware of the specific criteria established for an MLP, but feel there are specific area in Park County, such as water aquifers and potential for contamination, that deserve special consideration.
Thank you for the opportunity and I again state that such recommendations and comments are mine only.
Tom Eisenman, Park County
Comments by Misi Ballard to the RAC February 13:
My name is Misi N. Ballard. I am a property owner and part-time resident of South Park,
Colorado. I am the South Park Broadband Leader for the the Great Old Broads for
Wilderness and a Board member of Wild Connections. I appreciate this opportunity to
express my deep concerns for the future of South Park to the Front Range Resource
As was announced yesterday by Mr. Keith Berger, BLM’s Royal Gorge Field Office Manager,
at the Advisory Board on the Environment meeting in Fairplay, the BLM is now
considering the inclusion of a Master Leasing Plan in the upcoming revised Resource
Management Plan process. This is welcome news to those of us concerned about the
tremendous environmental threats facing South Park from potential major energy
development on our public lands. We also heard, though, that BLM leasing activities may
continue as normal while the Resource Management Plan is revised, a process that
can easily take years to complete, without benefit of a Master Leasing Plan to guide current
development. This scenario would leave South Park vulnerable to all the potential
environmental threats inherent in energy development including surface and groundwater
contamination, air, noise, light and traffic pollution, and the resulting loss of the rural, wild
character of the area upon which its strong outdoor-oriented economy is based, and the
destruction of critical wildlife habitat and migratory corridors ; in short,
we would be opening the door to the industrialization of South Park. We simply cannot
allow the possibility of piecemeal development to occur.
In light of BLM’s acknowledgement of the need for a Master Leasing Plan in South Park, it is unacceptable to consider proceeding with business as usual until such time as the revised Resource Management Plan is completed. Knowing that the RMP process will likely take years to complete, I request that BLM develop a Master Leasing Plan for South Park before beginning the lengthy Resource Management Plan process, thereby immediately enabling a broader consideration of potential energy development impacts to the entire landscape of South Park and its resources, including water quality and quantity, wildlife habitat, fisheries and air quality before leases are issued during this interim period. A MLP could reasonably be deveped with in 6 months.
We have a heavy responsibility to protect the clean water that more than half of Colorado’s 5 million people depend upon, the wildlife populations and their habitats found in South Park, and the rural quality of life and the strong recreation-based economy it supports, not just for our present-day population but for the generations to follow. A Master Leasing Plan will help avoid the conflicts and harmful impacts inherent where mineral and important wildlife and environmental resources overlap.
Misi N. Ballard
South Park Broadband Leader
Great Old Broads for Wilderness