New road to Roan kicks up dust
A new road being built to the top of the Roan Plateau has some seeing plenty of dust near Parachute. The road is being blasted into the Roan Cliffs for Petroleum Development Corp. (PDC) to gain access to 16,000 acres of private land slated for extensive natural gas development. The two-lane private road, under construction since last summer about eight miles north of Parachute, is being built in Garden Gulch and above Parachute Creek to prevent trucks from having to drive through DeBeque to reach the Roan Plateau via Logan’s Wash, cutting off more than an hour of travel time. Dewey Gerdom, PDC vice president of exploration, said the “very expensive” road will provide year-round access to private land atop the Roan Plateau for PDC and its partner drilling companies, whose names Gerdom would not disclose. Gas companies not in the partnership will not be allowed to use the road. “It will give us as an industry an avenue on top of the mesa,” he said. The road is expected to be complete by the end of November, but could be delayed as late as April 2007. With the blasting spewing plumes of dust in the air, the view from Sid Lindauer’s home is sometimes a bit hazy these days. Lindauer, who lives about a mile north of Parachute, said the blasting was so intense recently “that the whole valley filled up with dust,” obscuring views of Battlement Mesa and the surrounding area. “My wife was shocked when she heard that blast go off,” he said. Gerdom said Monday in a presentation to the Garfield County Commission that the road construction is sending up “short-lived” dust plumes, which he called “an aesthetic thing we’re trying to take care of.”The company just purchased a water cannon to wet down the rock face before it’s blasted to reduce the dust plume. County Commissioner Trési Houpt said some have been concerned about the construction dropping rock and silt into Parachute Creek, but Gerdom assured the commission that the creek would not be affected. Despite concerns, Duke Cox, president of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, said that the road is necessary for gas companies to be able to access the top of the Roan Plateau. “It’ll help out the community, too,” because it will reduce truck traffic on other area roads, he said. But he said that he doesn’t necessarily condone drilling atop the Roan, and “it’s a shame to see them have to build a new road anywhere.”Lindauer said that though he’s not against gas development in the area, he believes gas companies should inform nearby residents about what kind of work is planned in the area. “They don’t keep us up to date,” he said. “How could we agree or disagree with a project when we don’t know what’s even going on? They didn’t tell us anything (about the blasting).”But it’s important that PDC is trying to keep the dust down, Cox said. “The industry recognizes that the county is doing full-time particulate emission studies right now,” he said. “They’re aware. They don’t have the option now of just ignoring that sort of thing. It speaks well for them that they’re willing to spend the money” to deal with dust.• In other business Monday, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario presented the county fire plan to the commissioners. The county received a $20,000 grant from the federal Bureau of Land Management for Colorado State Forestry to create the fire plan, which, among other things, identifies wildland-urban interface areas that may need fire mitigation, or forest thinning, and illustrates how officials can educate homeowners about the threat of wildfire.
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