BLM says public should put Roan concerns in writing
Members of the public had more questions than federal officials had answers Wednesday night at a meeting in Rifle on a proposed management plan for the Roan Plateau.Bureau of Land Management officials repeatedly returned to a common refrain: Many of the questions and concerns raised Wednesday are the kinds of input the BLM is seeking during its ongoing public comment period on the plan.Some 40 people attended a BLM presentation at the Garfield County Fairgrounds Wednesday on the five draft alternatives the agency has laid out for managing oil and gas development and other activities on the plateau, located northwest of Rifle. About 30 people attended a similar meeting Monday night in Battlement Mesa, and a third is scheduled for tonight in Glenwood Springs.BLM officials on Wednesday fielded questions on a range of issues, from protection of paleontological resources to what provisions the plan makes for oil shale development.Most of the questions focused on gas drilling. Alternative 3, the BLM’s preferred draft alternative, would defer drilling on the plateau top until 80 percent of the drilling projected for surrounding lowlands takes place, a threshold expected to be reached in about 16 years.When challenged about the accuracy of the drilling rate estimates used to project that date, the BLM’s Greg Goodenow said, “That’s exactly the kind of thing we like to see in comments.”Goodenow is planning and environmental coordinator for the BLM’s Glenwood Springs Field Office.The BLM sought to offer a range of planning alternatives for drilling, vehicle travel and other activities on the plateau. The agency is seeking public input on those alternatives before going forward with a final plan.Glenwood Springs resident Steve Smith, a staff member with The Wilderness Society, told BLM officials he appreciates its public presentations and the various means it is providing for submitting comments. But he expressed frustration that this week’s presentations weren’t providing an opportunity for a more full-blown public discussion of the issues at stake.BLM spokesman Steven Hall said such opportunities will arise later, including in meetings of local governments and the BLM’s citizen-based Northwest Colorado Resource Advisory Council.”I think there will be a lot of meetings like that. Hopefully we will have those dialogues,” he said.David Francomb, who moved to Rifle a year ago, attended Wednesday’s presentation and said he found it to be “very informative.” He said he attended due to an interest in oil and gas development, “and what the outcome is going to be for the region.”He said he expects he will submit comments on the plateau plan, but hasn’t formed a strong opinion yet and is examining both sides of the drilling issue.Allen Crockett, a BLM consultant who is serving as project manager for the plateau plan, gave Wednesday’s presentation and said he was happy at the turnout and the questions being asked. He found people to be offering well-informed input about the plan.”That’s why we encourage them to put it in writing,” he said.Comments on the plan may be submitted to Roan Plateau Comments – Greg Goodenow, BLM Glenwood Springs Field Office, 50629 Highway 6, Glenwood Springs, 81601, or at http://www.roanplateau.ene.com.
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