BLM opening Roan Plateau to drilling

By Nancy LofholmDenver Post Staff Writer

var requestedWidth = 0;

if(requestedWidth > 0){ document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.width = requestedWidth + "px"; document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.margin = "0px 0px 10px 10px"; } The Bureau of Land Management will open up the Western Slope's Roan Plateau to gas drilling under a decision released today.

Drilling at the plateau, west of Rifle and north of Parachute, will be restricted and done in stages.

Under the decision, only 350 acres of the plateau can be disturbed at one time. No drilling will be allowed on steep slopes, and most of it will be done directionally, which causes less surface disturbance.

The BLM also said no drilling will be allowed now in 21,034 acres of critical habitat. Those acres are being set aside for more consideration.

The Record of Decision was released after several years of tussling between the Bureau of Land Management, the oil and gas industry, and environmental and conservation groups, as well as local municipalities and state and federal representatives.

There has been heavy opposition to drilling on top of the plateau, which holds some critical habitat and unique fish and plant species.