A US Forest Service official has rejected most objections raised by the Western Energy Alliance, West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association, and Public Lands Advocacy to USFS’s draft oil and gas leasing decision for the White River National Forest in western Colorado.
The groups objected to White River National Forest Supervisor Scott G. Fitzwilliams’ Dec. 9 draft record of decision, which would close nearly 1.3 million acres of the forest to oil and gas leasing, 61,000 acres of which are in the Four Mile-Thompson Divide area, including Mancos shale potential.
James Bedwell, acting deputy regional forester, in May agreed with Fitzwilliams’ February decision to close the Thompson Divide area to future leasing.
Encana Corp. was successful in its suggestion that a final decision include a map showing the application of new lease stipulations. Bedwell ordered Fitzwilliams to include such a map.
There is no timetable for a final decision although USFS officials estimate the review process could be done in 2 months. The groups filing objections had asked USFS to withdraw the plan and complete the comprehensive analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act.