Gunnison Energy proposes to drill up to 35 gas wells from four new well pads and one existing well pad and to construct access roads and gas pipelines in Gunnison County. Construction and development activities are anticipated to begin in late spring or early summer 2017 and to extend over a period of approximately three years. The project, referred to as the North Fork Mancos Master Development Plan (NFMMDP), would occur within an area encompassing 34,906 acres of public and private lands. This includes 25,790 acres administered by the Forest Service; 468 acres administered by the BLM; and 8,648 acres of private lands. Long-term operational life of the project is estimated at 30 years, during which time up to 700 billion cubic feet of natural gas is expected to be produced. The BLM and Forest Service are seeking comments from the public before they begin analyzing the proposal in an Environmental Assessment.
BLM Extends Scoping Comment Period for North Fork Gas Proposal–You Spoke Up, and Your Voice Was Heard!
High Country Conservation Advocates thanks all of our members and supporters who contacted the BLM and Forest Service requesting a scoping comment extension for the North Fork Mancos Master Development Plan (NFMMDP). The agencies heard from the public and from the Gunnison and Delta Boards of County Commissioners, and on February 7 extended the comment period by 30 days. Scoping comments are now due by March 22. We know that many of you took the time to contact the agencies, and we thank you!
HCCA is working with our partners in the North Fork and the public in Gunnison County to address this large development proposal. Below are some maps hot off the digital press that update those we shared with you last week. The new maps (1) add the boundaries of the North Fork Coal Area and authorized coal leases just south of Gunnison Energy’s gas proposal, showing how much land could be impacted by dirty fossil fuel development; (2) show the location of the Bull Mountain Pipeline, the area’s primary means of transporting gas to market; and (3) show additional roads.
What Impacts Would the NFMMDP Have?
- Wildlife Habitat – The NFMMDP is in the heart of Game Unit 521, and home to fragile populations of elk, mule deer, and other wildlife.
- Watershed Health – Creeks that feed into the North Fork of the Gunnison River are at risk. This watershed supports some of the North Fork Valley’s most important irrigation sources and organic agriculture.
- Recreation – Expansion of gas development in the Upper North Fork could impact hunting and camping, and could negatively affect enjoyment of the planned Carbondale-to-Crested Butte Trail by worsening air quality and affecting the McClure Pass viewshed.
- Geology – This project is being proposed in a geologically unstable area directly upstream from the orchards, farms and vineyards of the North Fork Valley.
- Cumulative Impacts – This project is adjacent to the proposed 146-well Bull Mountain Master Development Plan, and is only the first phase of a planned 13-pad development in the NFMMDP area. It also is close to the recently approved 20,000-acre North Fork Coal Area.
What Can You Do Right Now?
Email the BLM (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Forest Service (email@example.com) and request that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be completed for this project and subsequent projects, rather than the piecemeal analysis condoned by the BLM that separates development into individual Environmental Assessments. Highlight the impacts identified above, and any others that you think the agencies should address and that warrant an EIS. Finally, if you have personal knowledge of the public lands in the project area (do you hike, hunt, or recreate there?), please convey that in your comments.
Check out these maps of the proposal area courtesy of Rocky Mountain Wild (maps updated 2/7/2017):