The White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams announced last week the availability of the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for oil and gas leasing in order to accomodate a 60-day public comment period.
The DEIS identifies lands available for oil and gas leasing across the entire forest, which includes stipulations to protect surface resources.
“A vital part of the planning process for this complex and controversial project is to gather public input. The DEIS lays out four alternatives for consideration, which were developed after analyzing public comments during initial outreach efforts,” said Fitzwilliams. “Now we are ready to listen to public comment again as we move into the next phase of this process.”
Cooperating agencies have also weighed in early in this analysis and will continue to provide input throughout the process and include Bureau of Land Management, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
The DEIS updates the existing 1993 oil and gas leasing decision and responds to changing conditions such as technological advances in oil and gas exploration and development. Highlights of the DEIS include:
- Addresses information and circumstances that are new since the 1993 analysis;
- Changes the 1993 leasing decision to identify 260,308 acres (approximately 11%) as administratively available for oil and gas leasing;
- Attaches No Surface Occupancy (NSO), Controlled Surface Use (CSU), and Timing Limitation (TL) lease stipulations, where needed on future leases, for the purpose of protecting surface resources;
- Changes the 1993 leasing decision that identifies 1,215,777 acres (approximately 53%) as closed for oil and gas leasing through management direction.
- Changes the 1993 leasing decision to identify 800,555 acres (approximately 35%) as legally closed for oil and gas leasing;
- Amends the 2002 WRNF Forest Plan to incorporate the new leasing decision.
This DEIS should not be confused with the recent news about drilling and unitization proposals in the Thompson Divide area. Nor should this DEIS be confused with the release of the BLM’s White River Field Office Oil and Gas Development Resource Management Plan Amendment involving BLM lands in Northwest Colorado. The Thompson Divide area proposals involve lands with existing leases on the WRNF. The DEIS released today is only for future leasing of White River National Forest lands.
The Forest Service is asking for public comment by Oct. 31, 2012 Please address your comments to Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor, White River National Forest, P.O. Box 1919, Sacramento, CA 95812; E-mail comments to:WRNFoilangascomments@fscomments.org