Drilling in New Castle wildlife area protested | VailDaily.com

Drilling in New Castle wildlife area protested

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

NEW CASTLE, Colorado” The Bureau of Land Management on Thursday sold a federal mineral lease underneath the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area near New Castle even though the Colorado Division of Wildlife had asked the agency to delay the sale indefinitely.

The federal land bureau delayed some other leases in the area at the state’s request.

Wildlife director Thomas Remington sent a letter to the land bureau in late January, writing that the area “provides crucial winter range for deer and elk that are finding fewer and fewer places to inhabit without conflict.”

The agency also asked that other leases underneath the state wildlife area be delayed until lease stipulations could be updated to include the “best available information to protect” species that live in the wildlife area.

The 360-acre parcel Wildlife wanted procted was sold for $2,400 an acre to Meadow Ridge No. 3 LLC, said Jamie Gardner, a spokeswoman for the land bureau. Another 45-acre parcel was sold for $3,100 an acre to Exxon.

Thursday’s lease sale of 35 parcels in Colorado brought in $3.9 million, with 48 percent of the total going back to the state, according to the land bureau.

Federal rules say the energy companies must drill from outside the wildlife area to reach the minerals underneath it, a technique known as “directional drilling.”

While the Division of Wildlife owns the land, it does not own the minerals underground.

One energy firm, Orion Energy Partners, has received a special permit from the Division of Wildlife to survey parts of the wildlife area for future drilling. The company it wants to drill in the only when animals would not be harmed.

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