Consider the alternatives: Plateau input due Thursday |

Consider the alternatives: Plateau input due Thursday

People concerned about the future of the Roan Plateau have two more days to offer input on a range of alternatives being considered for its future management.A 30-day comment period closes Thursday. The six alternatives under consideration range from wide-open oil and gas development on the plateau to a conservation-oriented measure supported by environmentalists and, recently, by the Glenwood Springs City Council.At issue is the Bureau of Land Management’s resource management plan for 73,600-acre plateau northwest of Rifle.The plateau was formerly operated as a naval oil shale reserve. Its oversight was transferred from the Department of Energy to the BLM in 1997.The transfer legislation specifically listed the area for energy development. More recently, the Bush administration has pushed to finish the plateau management to speed up oil and gas development.However, the BLM is permitted to consider a range of management alternatives.The alternatives include:-Alternative A – No action, with a continuation and extension of existing management constraints.-Alternative B – Preserving the naturalness of the area, using passive management techniques.-Alternative C – Providing for traditional and alternative uses, which would allow some opportunities for new oil and gas leasing and development.-Alternative D – Maintaining ecological richness and unique ecosystem values, through active management.-Alternative E – Allowing for oil and gas leasing and development in the least restrictive manner.-Alternative F – Preserving the natural character, landscape features, ecological richness and unique ecosystem values through natural processes, and preserving the present recreational setting and experience.Alternative F would set aside 21,400 acres in three wilderness study areas and close 43,254 acres to oil and gas leasing.Under Alternative E, none of the plateau would be closed to oil and gas leasing, and no wilderness study areas would be created.Under all the alternatives, wells would be spaced no more densely than one per 40 acres.Alternative E also calls for no Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. Alternatives B and F call for four such areas, totaling 36,145 acres.Environmentalists say the plateau is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Colorado, includes some threatened plant and animal species, and should be protected from energy development.They call instead for directional drilling to occur from the plateau’s base.Last week, the Glenwood Springs City Council voted 5-2 in support of Alternative F. Dissenting council members expressed concern about locking up a source of domestic energy.Information on the Roan Plateau alternatives can be obtained from the BLM’s Glenwood Springs Field Office, at 50629 Highway 6 & 24; from any Garfield County public library; or at or may be submitted to the latter Web site, e-mailed to, or mailed to Greg Goodenow – Roan Plateau Plan, Bureau of Land Management, Glenwood Springs Field Office, P.O. Box 1009, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602.Comments are due by Thursday, Nov. 14.Goodenow also may be reached at 947-2800.

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