A 40-acre tract on the southern border of the Shenandoah subdivision has been pulled from an oil and gas lease sale that is slated for March, according to a spokesman with the Bureau of Land Management.
The sale of the parcel, which is on BLM land, drew public backlash earlier this month when Shenandoah residents said the agency did not properly notify them of the sale or a public comment period.
The potential development of the land, which sits on vacant land just south of the luxury home subdivision about eight miles southwest of Durango, also drew concern over noise, traffic and general health risks associated with nearby oil and gas development.
For a parcel to go up for an oil and gas lease sale, it has to be nominated by an interested buyer. The BLM, however, does not disclose the name of interested buyers.
Public opposition sparked the BLM on Oct. 10 to contact the interested buyer, who nominated the parcel in 2011, to see if they still had any interest in developing the area for oil and gas.
“We reached out to the nominator for that parcel, who said they were no longer interested in obtaining a lease for it because of its low-energy potential,” said Jayson Barangan, spokesman for the BLM Colorado state office. “Basically, it’s just not economically viable for them.”
The Durango Herald on Oct. 11 – one day after the public comment period ended – requested public comments submitted to BLM regarding the oil and gas lease sale.
The BLM denied the request until after a protest period in December.
“Even then you will only see comments with responses, that were deemed substantive,” the BLM’s natural resource specialist Ryan Joyner wrote in an email.
An 80-acre tract on private property off County Road 120 in Hay Gulch will still go up for sale in March. The sale of that parcel was embraced by the landowner when contacted the first week of October.
“Hell yes I am,” said Dan Huntington, a La Plata County Electric Association board member who owns as many as 1,600-acres in Hay Gulch (County Road 120).
Cynthia Roebuck, executive director of SW CO Advocates, which represents residents along County Road 120, mostly with issues from the GCC Energy coal mine, said none of the residents in the area that are members of the group received notice from BLM of the sale.
“The residents have expressed concerns regarding the increased traffic (particularly large truck and machinery) on County Road 120, impacts to the water wells in the area, the proximity of the lease parcel to the new Huntington Reservoir that serves the King II Coal Mine and the possibility of additional irrigation water being “reallocated” for use by the oil & gas wells,” Roebuck said in an email to The Durango Herald. “They all oppose the offering of the parcel for lease.”
La Plata County commissioners on Tuesday are expected to send a letter to the BLM, requesting the BLM defer the two parcels in the county “due to the inability to adequately mitigate the anticipated impacts of their development.”
“Given the minimal size of the parcels and the unaddressed impacts to our roads, property owned by our constituents, and our environment, we respectfully request deferral of the sale on both parcels until specific and acceptable forms of mitigation have been identified,” the letter says.
It was unclear late Monday how the withdrawal of the parcel near Shenandoah will affect the drafting of the letter.