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September 12, 2013
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Garfield County energy mapping project nears end of first phase

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Consultants working with Garfield County to draft a long-term energy and mining development master plan expect to complete the first phase of the project by year’s end.

Included in that will be a comprehensive map of where various tapped and untapped resources exist, ranging from oil and gas, coal, oil shale, mineral deposits, and aggregate for gravel, concrete and asphalt production, to places where wind, solar, hydro and geothermal resources could be developed.

The mapping effort will also identify the different constraints to accessing those resources, which is where the county could play a role in crafting specific policies to help facilitate development where appropriate.

“We have collected and presented factual information from all the state and federal resources, but have not tried to interpret anything,” said Steve Haverl of TRC consulting, during an update for the Garfield County commissioners earlier this week.

“We’ve presented the best set of facts available … leaving it up to you to establish policy,” he said.

County commissioners launched the effort earlier this year, aimed at identifying where future energy development and other natural resource extraction is likely to occur in Garfield County. One idea is for the county to better plan for that development through its infrastructure and capital improvements planning.

It’s also intended to give the county another tool to identify constraints and help guide future energy policy in its regulatory dealings with the state and federal government.

“We are nearing the end of the first phase,” said Fred Jarman, Garfield County community development director, at the Sept. 10 work session with the commissioners.

“We’ve done all of the data collection, and now it’s more of a mapping and formatting exercise to get us to a series of maps that will identify the various constraints,” he said.

One challenge is that certain details, such as old mine locations and local historical knowledge about past resource extraction activities, may not always show up in state or federal databases, Haverl said.

“Some of you may have personal knowledge or anecdotal information that may not show up in the data sets we pulled from,” he said.

If certain information is not in the available databases, it’s up to the county to work with the appropriate state or federal agency to update that information, he said.

Glenwood Springs resident George Wear, who is an engineering consultant working with the Colorado River Roundtable on a new water needs assessment, suggested that the county coordinate its energy planning efforts with other ongoing assessments.

One way to do that would be to make the web-based mapping interactive so that other entities and the public can compare the information.

Among the things being looked at in the water study are oil shale and natural gas, and what the future water needs will be, Wear said.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Sep 12, 2013 10:38PM Published Sep 13, 2013 01:16PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.