Week in review
BATTLEMENT MESA – The Bureau of Land Management unveiled a benchmark plan for tightly restricted natural gas development on top of the Roan Plateau Thursday.The plan will guide resource management of 73,000 acres of public land above Rifle and Parachute for the next 20 years.BLM’s innovative approach calls for clustered development of the gas-rich area based on a proposal by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) during meetings between BLM and cooperating local governments last summer.Although many oil and gas companies will be able to lease the mineral rights on the plateau, only one operator, chosen by the group of lease holders, will be allowed to drill and develop the gas. One-operator drilling wells and the installation of processing plants and pipelines will limit surface disturbance. The BLM hopes that it will also protect wildlife habitat and the spectacular views of the plateau from Interstate 70.Development will be limited to the ridge tops of the plateau and about 23,000 aces will be set aside to protect wildlife habitat and sensitive plants and fish.Development will be limited to 350 acres at a time, about 1 percent of the total acreage. Well pads will be spaced at least a half mile apart. Traffic will be restricted to existing roads, and pipelines will be placed alongside them.
The Red Apple Fire was accidentally started by a weed-cutting device.Heat from the engine after it was placed on some dry weeds sparked the blaze while homeowners in the area were doing yard work, according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.Vallario said that area homeowners were working in their yard with a weed cutter, when one of them set it down for a moment. The heat from the device sparked the dry weeds in the area.The couple called the fire department and attempted to put out the flames themselves with a fire extinguisher that they had at their home, according to Vallario.The fire started the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 31, and burned 829 acres. One home and three outbuildings were destroyed. The fire was contained by Sunday afternoon.
Despite public outcry, Glenwood Springs has no plans to back down any time soon on back-in angle parking.Rather, it’s planning to accelerate the approach beyond Cooper Avenue.City Council voted 4-2 Thursday night against ending the experiment on Cooper, deciding the city should stick to its plan to give the concept a year to prove if it will be worthwhile.It also directed city staff members to expand the experiment to Seventh Street downtown and North Hyland Park Drive by Sayre Park as soon as possible.Council member Larry Beckwith said it’s too soon to judge the concept because it isn’t yet known how well it will work in winter conditions.Two Cooper Avenue merchants told council that back-in parking is plenty bad already, and is causing them to lose customers too frustrated by it.
The work of a severance tax task force paid off this month for Garfield County.The group convened earlier this year to look at how state mineral severance taxes are distributed.Garfield and Mesa counties were the largest beneficiaries of the distribution, with Garfield and its municipalities garnering $3.8 million and Mesa $5.6 million. The two counties are the epicenters of natural gas development in the state.Both saw significant increases this year over last. In 2005, Garfield saw $2.1 million in revenue and Mesa $2.8 million.Last year the Department of Local Affairs, the state agency that distributes revenues from severance taxes, convened a task force to look at distribution procedures after local governments in northwest Colorado expressed concern over their decreasing revenues from severance and federal mineral lease taxes and over DOLA’s plan to hand out revenues to all counties in the state, not just those affected by mineral development.Severance tax distribution is based on the number of energy-related employees in an affected area.
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Grand Junction man Bruce Holder, 55, faces up to life in prison and a $20 million fine after a jury convicted him on charges related to the overdose death of a Carbondale man.