GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Garfield County commissioners plan to go on record with federal land management officials formally opposing the use of Four Mile Road and Midland Avenue as a haul route to access gas leases proposed in the Thompson Divide area.
First, though, the commissioners want to discuss the matter at a joint meeting scheduled for this Thursday with Glenwood Springs City Council.
City officials have also expressed concerns over the prospect of gas industry truck traffic coming through Glenwood Springs. However, council has not taken a formal position on the matter.
Commissioners, at their regular meeting on Monday, reviewed a draft letter to U.S. Bureau of Land Management Field Manager Steven Bennett stating the county's opposition to the use of Four Mile as a haul route.
SG Interests of Houston has begun applying for permits to drill on federal lands southwest of Sunlight Mountain Resort in the area known as Thompson Divide, a 221,500-acre expanse of public lands stretching from Sunlight Mountain Resort south to the McClure Pass area.
"To be clear, Four Mile Road is not and was never constructed as part of [Garfield County's haul route system], and remains structurally and geometrically inadequate to withstand the heavy truck weights and volumes associated with natural gas exploration," the county's draft letter states.
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said he doesn't want to single out SG Interests in the BLM letter, pointing out that other energy companies have active leases in the area as well.
"This is about stating our concerns over that being a haul route for the entire [Thompson Divide] area, not just SG Interests' leases," Jankovsky said.
"For the reasons I stated before, Four Mile and Midland Avenue coming through Glenwood Springs would not be good for a haul route," Jankovsky said. "Glenwood Springs has been a tourist town for 125 years, and this would create a conflict between our two leading industries in this county.
"The city needs to look at that impact as well," he added.
Eric Sanford, the regional operations and land manager for SG Interests, said a letter to the BLM regarding the haul route would be premature.
"There will be a NEPA process conducted for these leases, which will look at the alternative for a haul route," Sanford said at the Monday commissioners meeting.
Sanford also reiterated comments made by other SG Interests officials that Four Mile is already used as a haul route for logging trucks and traffic headed to and from the Wolf Creek natural gas storage unit operated by SourceGas.
Commissioner John Martin said the county, while opposed to the Four Mile route, would work with the industry and neighbors in the area to designate an appropriate haul route.
Glenwood Springs resident George Wear also opposed the county's letter to the BLM, and said the larger issue is whether natural gas development in the Thompson Divide area is appropriate to begin with.
"I'd rather see you do a letter to the BLM opposing unitization and opposing future gas development in this area," Wear said.
SG Interests has applied with the BLM to combine leases in the area under a single unit to prevent them from expiring next spring.
The county commissioners' meeting with City Council begins at 6 p.m. Thursday at Glenwood Springs City Hall. It will be followed by a town hall meeting with the county commissioners from 7-8 p.m., at which public comment will be taken.