Silt-area residents vent about drilling impacts |

Silt-area residents vent about drilling impacts

by Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

A roomful of Silt-area residents pleaded for quick relief from the gas drilling industry at Monday’s Garfield County commission meeting. They were told not much can be done right now.

“We are limited as to what we can do,” Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt told the crowd.

“We are taking baby steps,” County Commissioner John Martin added. “But we are working with a giant.”

Dozens of residents who live south of Silt and do not own the mineral rights under their land have watched drilling rigs search for gas on their property the past few years.

On Monday, 40 to 50 residents told the commissioners about their problems with the natural gas drilling industry. Hermann Staufer kicked off the discussion with a rhetorical call to action. “We have the right to tell them how they can go onto our property to extract minerals,” he said.

Beth Jordinsky said she wasn’t trying to fuss because drilling is near her home, but she said the gas industry should respect her and her property.

“We can’t lay down and let them run all over us,” she said.

Raymond Schoonmaker, who moved to 300 acres on Dry Park Hollow a few years ago, said the noise and light from drilling rigs is a problem 24 hours a day.

“It’s like a little city that has moved into the area,” Schoonmaker said. “It sounds like a railroad running all the time. It has ruined the area aesthetically.”

Ranchers spoke against industry plans for a pipeline across their property, and suggested it be built along county roads instead.

“Let’s put their pipeline down the county roads, like utilities,” said Jerry Fazzi, who bought his ranch on Divide Creek in 1986.

Don Fulton, a third-generation Silt area rancher, said development, recreation and the oil industry are crowding out agriculture.

“We want laws to protect our industry,” Fulton said. “Colorado is still an agricultural state.”

At several points in the discussion, residents were told the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulates the oil and gas industry, and there is little the county can to do to intercede.

The county is revamping its land use codes, and might be able to address some problems at that level. That process is expected to take 12 to 15 months, Commissioner Larry McCown said.

Houpt said the county has a responsibility to put oil and gas concerns at the top of its land use review list.

“We should put a high priority on helping surface owners, but also on how industry can work with the county,” she said.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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