White River NF to hold info sessions on oil and gas plan

Public comment still wanted on draft version

A map from the draft EIS shows areas with surface-use stipulations in one of the plan’s alternatives. Courtesy White River National Forest. Click on the map to see the draft study, including all the maps, online.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A draft plan that outlines several options for oil and gas development on the White River National Forest is still open for public comment, and the Forest Service is holding a couple of open house session to gather input and help explain the plan to the public.

The draft plan includes alternatives that cut the amount of land available from 416,000 acres to about 260,000 acres and outlines strict stipulations for drilling activities to protect surface resources, especially in roadless areas, where no surface occupancy would be permitted.

After the 60-day comment period, Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams will choose from the options outlined in the draft for a final plan.

The open houses are set for Sept. 12, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Colorado River Valley Field Office located at 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652, and Oct. 2, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District Headquarters Building located at 301 Meadowood Drive, Carbondale, CO 81623.

The WRNF Oil and Gas Leasing DEIS is available on the White River National Forest website at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=29938.

In addition to the opportunity to comments at the open houses, comments on the DEIS will be accepted through 30 October 2012. Comments may be submitted in writing by any of the following methods:

Mail: Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor, White River National Forest – Oil and Gas Leasing DEIS, P.O. Box 1919, Sacramento, CA 95812.

Email: WRNFoilandgascomments@fscomments.org

Fax: 916.456.6724

Questions about the open houses or DEIS, they can be directed to David Francomb at 970-963-2266 ext. 3136.

The new plan updates a 1993 version with new information based on  changing conditions such as technological advances in oil and gas exploration and development.  Highlights of the DEIS include:

  • Attaches No Surface Occupancy (NSO), Controlled Surface Use (CSU), and Timing Limitation (TL) lease stipulations, where needed on future leases, for the purpose of protecting surface resources;
  • Changes the 1993 leasing decision that identifies 1,215,777 acres (approximately 53 percent) as closed for oil and gas leasing through management direction.
  • Changes the 1993 leasing decision to identify 800,555 acres (approximately 35 percent) as legally closed for oil and gas leasing.

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