CO Division of Wildlife and Energy Cos enter into 355,000 acres of Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Plans

Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Plans are a tool created by Colorado’s new oil and gas rules, adopted in December 2008 by the Colorado OIl and Gas Conservation Commission, pursuant to 2007 legislation – House bills 1298 and 1341.

According to the press release issued by the Governor’s office, the agreements were negotiated over the past 18 months.   “By consulting with the Colorado Division of Wildlife on how to prevent or mitigate damage to wildlife habitat before drilling starts, oil and gas operators will be able to secure approvals for thousands of natural gas wells more quickly.  The agreements also provide the energy companies and their project planners with additional certainty. ”

“Last week, the Division of Wildlife and Exxon Mobil Corp. signed the largest wildlife protection plan to date, covering 150,000 acres of mainly federal land in Rio Blanco County.”

“Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., whose North Parachute ranch plan was the first major agreement to be signed, and Williams Production RMT, which has signed two separate agreements for acreage bracketing the Colorado River, are also among the companies to enter into new agreements with the state.”

“Other companies are: Antero Resources Piceance Corp., Marathon OIl Co., Noble Energy Inc., Black Hills Exploration & Production, Delta Petroleum and Gunnison Energy Corp.

Colorado Wildlife Federation applauds such planning by several companies on a parcel  level – rather than addressing wildlife impacts on a permit application basis.  These parcels are in the heart of the Piceance Basin in northwest Colorado – home to some of the best, albeit shrinking wildlife habitat on the planet.   We are hopeful that these agreements translate into minimized adverse wildlife impacts on the ground as wellpads and infrastructure emerge. Time will tell – over the next few years –  how effective the negotiated measures and best management practices are to minimize adverse impacts to wildlife.   Monitoring and assessment are needed to determine on-the-ground results, as commented by CWF at the August 12 monthly meeting of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.   Commissioners discussed monitoring and assessment following CWF’s comments.  It now appears that annual reports will be made at Commission meetings.