Crestone Eagle, April 2008:
BLM announces sale of gas & oil leases
on forest land in SLV;
several parcels near Crestone
by Lisa Cyriacks
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced
the sale of leases on 133 parcels of federal lands to be included
in a statewide sale on May 8. The majority of these parcels–84
parcels totaling 144,090 acres—are located on US Forest
Service land in the San Luis Valley. Of the parcels for sale
there are three in Saguache County northwest of Crestone.
The larger share, more than 109,000 acres, is in the Rio Grande
National Forest near Del Norte and South Fork and is located
in both Rio Grande County and Saguache County.
The three parcels (nearly 1,000 acres) near the Town of Crestone
are located along Rito Alto and San Isabel Creeks. The San
Isabel parcels are adjacent to US Forest Service lands and
are split estate parcels with a partial mineral interest owned
by Lexam Explorations Inc. In a split estate the surface and
subsurface rights are owned by different parties. In these
situations, mineral rights are considered the dominant estate,
meaning they take precedence over other rights associated
with the property, including those associated with owning
the surface. However, the mineral owner may occupy only those
portions of the surface that are reasonably necessary to develop
the mineral estate.
The BLM acts as the leasing agent for mineral leases on all
federal lands. Parcels for lease can be identified by informal
expressions of interest from the public or by the BLM. Public
lands are made available only after they have been evaluated
through the BLM’s multiple-purpose planning process.
The lease grants the lessee the right to explore and drill
for, extract, remove, and dispose of oil and gas deposits
that may be found in the leased lands. The leases are granted
on the condition that the lessee will have to obtain BLM approval
prior to conducting surface-disturbing activities. Other uses,
including removal of any other minerals, are not permitted.
An Environmental Assessment (National Environmental Policy
Act) is also required prior to exploration.
The BLM and the U.S. Forest Service are working with county
and local officials, seeking concerns and input for things
that might have been overlooked. The Saguache County Commissioners
are meeting with Andrew Archuleta (USFS/BLM) April 8 at 2pm
during their regularly scheduled public meeting to discuss
the pendingleases in Saguache County.
The end date for public comments and/or protests for lands
proposed for leasing is 4pm, April 23. Protests and comments
may be mailed or hand-delivered to the Bureau of Land Management
office at 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, CO 80215, or faxed
to 303-239-3799. All protests filed on nominated parcels must
include the specific serial number of the parcel being protested
(can be found at www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/oilandgas/leasing.html).
Protested parcels may still be offered for sale but bidders
will be notified that no lease will be issued until protests
are resolved. After the oral auction on May 8 parcels that
received no bids will still be available for sale over the
counter for two years at a minimum of $2 per acre.
The notice for this sale has been posted for 60 days rather
than the minimum requirement of 45 days, so that citizens
will have more time to express their concerns to the BLM.
This is mainly due to the fact that there has not been a lease
sale in the San Luis Valley for more than 20 years. According
to Diann Gese, geologist for the Public Lands Center in Monte
Vista, there was a lot of leasing activity from 1985-1990.
The last lease on Rio Grande National Forest expired in 1994.
Although gas and oil leases and wells were numerous in the
mid-1980s and early 1990s, there was only one successful well.
The leases will be offered at a competitive oral sale at
9am on May 8 at the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado State
Office at 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, CO 80215. The
minimal acceptable bid is $2 per acre. Leases may be obtained
and held by any adult citizen of the United States. Associations
of citizens and corporations organized under the laws of the
United States or of any State also qualify. In order to participate
in the bidding process a bid number must be obtained. Bidders
will be registered the day of the sale at 8am. Bid forms can
be obtained at: https://www.blm.gov/FormsCentral/show-form.do?nodeId=672#.
A map of the parcels going up for sale and related information
is available at www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/oilandgas/leasing.html.
Parcels are included in the sale notice either due to informal
expressions of interest from the public or by the BLM for
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