Massive N.M. drilling plan approved
Northern New Mexico will continue to be peppered with oil and gas wells over the next 20 years.
The Bureau of Land Management recently approved the Farmington Resource Management Plan, which
calls for 12,500 new gas wells to be drilled around the city before 2022.
The San Juan Citizens' Alliance has expressed concerns
that the plan fails to address impacts to area air quality. Mark Pearson, the organization's
executive director, has likened the emissions from the 12,500 compressors to 3.5 million new cars
and said that pollution will blow into the Durango area. Pearson has added that this will not be
the end of area oil and gas development.
"All together, there are probably another 15,000 wells
proposed in the area," he said. "There are also two more coal-fired power plants proposed for the
Steve Henke, manager of the BLM's Farmington Field Office,
takes a different view of the situation, saying: "The Record of Decision provides for an
environmentally responsible approach to natural gas and oil development while meeting the
President's National Energy Plan goals. We will continue to require site-specific environmental
analysis and reviews to ensure all projects comply with existing laws and policy before any permit
decisions are made."
Henke added that the BLM will continue support of
air-quality monitoring, modeling and future mitigation of emissions from natural gas
The plan will guide management of 1.8 million acres of
federal public land and 3 million acres of federally owned mineral estate administered by the
Farmington Field Office plus oil and gas development on the portion of the San Juan Basin
administered by the Albuquerque Field Office. In addition to oil and gas, the plan addresses
land-ownership adjustments, off-highway vehicle use, specially designated areas and coal-leasing
A plus side of the plan is the creation of 13
Off-Highway-Vehicle (OHV) management units that will limit OHVs to maintained roads, designated
trails and other areas considered suitable for cross-country travel.
The Record of Decision is available online at www.nm.
decision delayed again
marathon session before another large crowd last Tuesday, the Durango City Council decided to
delay its decision on the controversial River Trails Ranch until Nov. 4.
Earlier this year, the development team of Bob Wolff and
John Wessman forwarded a plan for 800 homes on the 245 acres formerly known as the Kroeger Ranch.
Seizing on the New Urbanism approach, the plan calls for a variety of housing types. The
development plan also contains space for businesses, schools, parks and open space.
Development of the Kroeger Ranch always has been
controversial, and currently a group called Friends of the Animas Valley is challenging the
development. Wolff and Wessman are seeking city approval to bring the ranch within city limits, a
necessity driven by utility service.
To this end, the council has now held four meetings on the
annexation to gauge input from the proponent and the public. During the prior three meetings,
public comment largely ruled the floor and the discussion was characterized by steadfast
opposition from Friends of the Animas Valley. Last Tuesday, the applicants were given an
opportunity to rebut the concerns.
After 4`BD hours, the council voted to delay a decision
until its Nov. 4 meeting. Council member Dale Garland was the only dissenting vote, saying he
advocated a decision at the council's Oct. 21 meeting.
City Planner Greg Hoch said that in his perception, the
decision reflected the overwhelming volume of information and comment on Wolff and Wessman's
"They haven't delayed it per se," he said. "They simply
have so much information to process and comments to receive that they've had to set up continuing
Mayor Virginia Castro commented, "Basically because the
public hearing is now closed legally we have to make a decision within 35 days. I would be
surprised if a decision is not made Nov. 4. At this point, it's a question of the council sleeping
on it and deciding what to do."
population on the rise
study performed by a Colorado State University has reported a sharp increase in the population of
deer mice in a Hesperus monitoring station. In previous years when such an increase has occurred
there have been human hantavirus cases in the Durango area, according to the San Juan Basin Health
Charles Calisher, a professor in the Microbiology,
Immunology and Pathology Department at CSU, said that he is not "suggesting or predicting that
there will be hantavirus cases in the Durango area, but (area residents) should be aware that
these observations indicate such a possibility."
The CSU study will continue to watch the relationship
between deer mice populations and changes in hantavirus infection rates this fall.
The health department noted that hantavirus is associated
with deer mice and cautioned people against living in homes with rodent populations; disturbing
rodent-infested areas; cleaning cabins, barns, outbuildings or any area contaminated with rodent
droppings; and to use caution when planting or harvesting field crops. For more information, call
the department at 247-5702.
College has finalized a plan to streamline its finances and improve the quality of the educational
experience. The college's board of trustees accepted the college's reorganization plan at their
regular meeting in Denver last week.
Fort Lewis College President Robert Dolphin Jr. said that
the plan is the result of a campus-wide collaboration and that all the input was greatly
appreciated. "The reorganization plan was revised after a great deal of input was received from
various members of the campus community, including individuals, departments, students and the
Faculty Task Force," he said.
The first goal of the reorganization is to realign the
role of the president consistent with the changing environment, allowing the president more time
to secure state, federal and private support for the college. A second goal is to provide a more
balanced distribution of the faculty among the three schools. The deans will have additional
authority and responsibility for academic, fiscal and personnel affairs. A third goal is to
enhance the quality and effectiveness of the lower-division student experience in order to improve
retention and graduation rates.
Plan implementation will be phased in, and completion is
expected by July 1 of next year.
"In order to maintain an organization that is viable and
that can effectively respond to ongoing changes in the environment, a formal evaluation of the
structure will be conducted after three years," said Dolphin. "If, after the first year, there are
areas where it is apparent that the new organization is definitely flawed, then consideration will
be given to initiate realignment."
City to thin
Durango Mountain Park
The city of
Durango is taking Fire Wise Durango, a community effort to lessen wildfire risk, into the Durango
Mountain Park this week. Beginning Oct. 16, crews will thin a buffer between the Crestview area
and the undeveloped city park that is laced with trails.
A professional fuels-mitigation company will be doing the
work which will stretch from Leyden Avenue to Crestview Avenue. The work should be completed by
Oct. 31 and the defensible space will be a strip behind the homes that is approximately 100 feet
wide and 1,500 feet long.
Kevin Hall, parks, open space and trails development
manager, said that there should not be any conflicts for trail users. "Any trails that are
impacted will be clearly signed and easily bypassed," he said.
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