The Associated Press
Posted: 05/08/2009

DENVER-A judge has canceled a contempt-of-court hearing against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over documents related to the Baca National Wildlife Refuge.

The hearing was conditionally set for Friday after Citizens for San Luis Valley-Water Protection Coalition challenged the agency’s request in March for more time to provide documents regarding potential exploratory drilling on the refuge.

A federal magistrate judge decided Thursday that there was no need for the contempt hearing.

“It appears the threat of contempt has brought the agency to comply,” said Travis Stills, an attorney representing the citizens group.

However, another hearing is set for May 27 to try to settle unresolved matters, including whether the agency has more documents that should be turned over, Stills said.

The coalition is among parties seeking a preliminary injunction to block Toronto-based Lexam Explorations from drilling two exploratory wells on the refuge. A hearing on that request is set for May 20.

The group contends that the documents it requested show industry officials influenced an analysis of environmental impacts of drilling. Refuge officials contend the review was thorough.