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Roan report released

Dennis Webb
Post Independent Staff
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson
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The Bureau of Land Management is proposing putting off drilling on the top of the Roan Plateau for another 10 to 20 years, while energy development proceeds along the plateau’s base.

BLM officials announced the proposal Friday in unveiling a draft plateau management plan at the Battlement Mesa Activity Center.

The plan lays out five alternatives for managing 73,000 acres of public land on and around the plateau, located northwest of Rifle. The BLM identifies Alternative 3 as its preferred plan.

Under that proposal, no drilling would occur on top of the plateau until 80 percent of the wells expected to be developed around the base are drilled and tested.

That threshold is about 2,400 wells, including about 300-400 that already have been drilled. BLM officials are predicting the threshold will be reached in a decade or two, and are more specifically guessing it will take 16 years. Under the latter time line, the BLM is projecting that 51 wells would be drilled in five years above the rim of the plateau, from 30 well pads.

Environmentalists and area communities have called for sparing the plateau top from drilling, to protect its environmental and recreational values.

The management plan would cover a 15- to 20-year period. It is designed to cover not only drilling activity, but vehicle travel, grazing and other uses of the plateau.

A 90-day public comment period will follow the plan’s release. BLM officials emphasized that comments are being sought not just on Alternative 3 but on all aspects of all five proposed alternatives, which offer a range of levels of protection for the plateau. The final plan chosen by the agency may end up consisting of portions of several of those alternatives, they said.

A series of public meetings will be held on the draft plan in December.

In-depth coverage of the draft plan’s release will be provided in Sunday’s Post Independent. The draft plan also can be found at http://www.roanplateau.ene.com.

Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516

dwebb@postindependent.com


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