More protection sought for Colorado plateau |

More protection sought for Colorado plateau

Judith Kohler
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Gov. Bill Ritter said Thursday he asked federal land managers to expand areas of the Roan Plateau that would be off-limits to natural gas drilling, calling the western Colorado landmark a one-of-a-kind treasure.

Ritter said he is continuing to negotiate with the Bureau of Land Management on restrictions for the rest of the plateau.

The comments and talks are part of the extra time Ritter was granted to review the BLM’s plan for managing federal land on the Roan.

The BLM issued a final plan in June opening some of the land to energy development. The plan had been in the works for seven years but Ritter asked for, and received, more time to study it because he had just taken office in January.

Ritter said he was encouraged that federal officials are open to finding a way to balance energy development with environmental and economic concerns.

The Roan Plateau sits atop several trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to industry and federal estimates, and is home to large oil shale deposits.

Environmentalists, hunting and angling groups and some area residents oppose plans to step up drilling on the public lands, fearing for the area’s wildlife and scenic beauty.

Area communities say recreation on the plateau contributes significantly to their economies.

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