Commissioners commend Roan group on presentation | PostIndependent.com
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Commissioners commend Roan group on presentation

What could natural gas wells do to the Roan Plateau?Members from the Citizens Campaign to Save the Roan Plateau presented the Garfield County Commissioners last week with a computer-assisted design showing what the plateau would look like with extensive well pads and roads laced through its landscape. The group is a collaborative effort of The Colorado Mountain Club, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, and the Center for Native Ecosystems. Gregg Cassarini from the Colorado Environmental Coalition and Clare Bastable from the Colorado Mountain Club represented the group.Using a CAD software program, Bastable was able to project the plateau in three dimensions on a large screen in the commissioners’ meeting room. At the direction of the computer mouse, the presentation swooped around the Roan, giving the audience a bird’s-eye view of the geography below. Bastable showed commissioners what the plateau would look like with wells spaced from 320 acres apart to 40 acres apart, excluding areas with a greater than 50-degree slope.Wildlife habitatThough commissioners Trési Houpt and John Martin told the group it did a “good job” with the presentation, both Martin and Commissioner Larry McCown didn’t think the group’s depiction of the Roan was entirely accurate.”You didn’t depict any areas of habitat or environmental concern,” McCown told Cassarini and Bastable, of the studies done – but not finalized – on the plateau’s many ecologically sensitive areas.Houpt came to the group’s defense.”I don’t think they can make a decision regarding areas to be protected because we don’t have a formal report,” she said. “I respectfully disagree,” Martin said. “I’ve been participating in this process since 1997. We know those wilderness habitat areas; we’ve talked about it. We’ve worked on alternatives, two books full that are each 2 inches thick.”The Bureau of Land Management is creating a first-draft management plan for the Roan Plateau. The final plan will determine all uses for the plateau for the next 15 years. A draft of the plan, which will stand up to public comment before it is finalized, was due last February. But it has been delayed several times and isn’t expected to be released to the public until some time this fall. “What’s possible is a general analysis with some possible scenarios,” Bastable said. “It’s a slippery slope.”Any extracting?McCown also asked Bastable to reiterate the citizen group’s position on drilling on the Roan Plateau when he asked her if it was accurate to say the group is against any extracting on the Roan’s public lands.”It would be safe to say we don’t want any extraction on top,” Bastable said, noting that only 14 percent of the natural gas found in and around the Roan Plateau is actually located under the plateau, while 86 percent of region’s natural gas is located under the base of the plateau. In addition, Martin asked the group if its findings include any investigation of coal, oil shale and wind power possibilities on the Roan.Bastable responded that the group’s efforts have focused on protecting the Roan from drilling on any of its public lands.Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518cclick@postindependent.com


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