On February 11, at the State Land Board public meeting, CWF urged that SLB staff confer in a clear, systematic process with Colorado Division of Wildlife staff about important wildlife values on proposed lease auction parcels. This is necessary to avoid, or at least minimize adverse impacts to important wildlife and habitat. Outcomes of the meeting: The SLB directed staff to review with the DOW wildlife values on tracts that will be offered at the February 17 auction (those tracts in which SLB owns both the mineral rights and the surface). The objective is to ensure that stipulations to protect very important wildlife habitat are attached to any leases offered at the auction. At the meeting It also was announced that SLB was removing from the February 17 lease auction three tracts in the South Park Basin. This is important for wildlife and to avoid potential harm to water quality. Two parcels are adjacent to the popular Antero Reservoir, an important fishery. In addition, it was decided to pull from the February 17 auction a tract very close to the Gold Medal waters of the Middle Fork of the South Platte River. A coalition of South Park residents and CWF urged withdrawal.[CWF had issued written comments to the Colorado Wildlife Commission in advance of its joint meeting on February 10 with the State Land Board. CWF then made verbal comments during the public comment segment of the SLB’s meeting on February 11. ]
The next step is for the SLB staff and DOW staff to work through development of a good process for DOW to learn of parcels SLB determines to offer at future quarterly auctions, and then to confer with SLB staff regarding important wildlife values, to avoid or minimize adverse impacts to Colorado’s important wildlife and habitat.
Earlier — December 3, 2010
At the Colorado State Land Board meeting December 3, 2010, CWF made the following comments. SLB is in the process of revising its oil and gas lease form. SLB owns 3,988,227 acres of mineral estates and 2,819,035.59 acres of the surface.
Text of Colorado Wildlife Federation’s Comments at the State Land Board Meeting
December 3, 2010
Presented by Suzanne O’Neill, Executive Director
Colorado Wildlife Federation is a nonprofit organization. Our members are a broad mix of sportsmen, other wildlife conservationists, small business that derive revenue from wildlife associated recreation, and some landowners. Our mission is to educate and advocate for sound wildlife management in Colorado. We were actively involved in the legislation and lengthy public process that culminated in the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) amended rules for oil and gas development that addresses minimizing adverse impacts to wildlife. These rules represent a sound accommodation of the competing interests, a balance. Everyone continues to work in a constructive manner within the rules.
The State Land Board is fortunate to own extensive acreage as mineral estate, coupled with surface ownership. The lands that have concentrations of oil or gas also happen to be rich in wildlife habitat. The Colorado constitution provides that economic productivity must be coupled with sound “stewardship.” The content of the key word, stewardship, sets out protection and enhancement of beauty, natural values, open sapce, and wildlife habitat for our generation and ones to come. Thus, the constitution imposes a duty to manage the inevitable practical tensions between energy development, on the one hand, and conservation values, on the other.
As you make revisions to the lease, we hope it will incorporate a conservation ethic. Such an ethic is essential to a stewardly management of the tensions between fostering of economic productivity and protection of wildlife. As to the proposed lease provision that addresses wildlife, paragraph F. under Additional operating requirements, the obligation to select best management practices is left to the lessee, the oil and gas operator. In our view, this mechanism might well lead the State Land Board to assume an overpassive role in discharging its duty of stewardship. As to those properties owned in surface as well as subsurface, the lead in defining best management practices must be taken by the State Land Board rather than by the operators. The State Land Board must have an active vision of its responsibility to navigate through the tension between development and stewardship. Of course, there can be negotiations, but they must be informed by such a vision. The Division of Wildlife and operators have hammered out many best management practices in sensitive wildlife habitat under the COGCC rules. By way of example, more than 325,000 acres of the Piceance Basin are covered in “wildlife migitation plans” (focused on minimization of adverse impacts to wildlife) since July 2010. The expertise is readily available. Thank you for the opportunity to offer our comments.