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Sat Nov 2, 2019, 09:00 PM

What you should know about drilling on federal land in Colorado

On Sept. 26, oil and gas companies logged on to EnergyNet and placed bids on 49 parcels of federal land in Colorado they may one day drill. The lease sales happen every quarter, as required by a 1987 federal law. About 42,000 acres were auctioned to drillers that day, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

The amount of land leased was not unusual for recent years. What was, however, was where the leases were located.

One company, Denver-based Woodbury Resources, staked out a parcel in a high-elevation basin in north-central Colorado for an annual rent of $2 per acre. That parcel fell within one mile of a greater sage grouse dancing site, where the imperiled birds mate. Under the 2015 sage grouse conservation plan, the BLM agreed not to lease that close to a so-called “lek.” The area would have been practically off-limits had the Trump administration not months earlier stripped protections for the sage grouse.

The state is trying to keep that one-mile barrier intact. And earlier this month, an order from a federal judge in Idaho reinstated the 2015 sage grouse protections across the West, including in Colorado. That order could delay when the BLM issues the leases from the September sale.

Read more: https://www.coloradoindependent.com/2019/11/01/colorado-oil-gas-federal-public-land-explainer/

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