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BLM Master Leasing Plan Approved, But With Smaller Footprint

Bureau of Land Management

The local Bureau of Land Management field office has been given a green light to move forward with a master leasing plan in Montezuma and La Plata counties.

Tres Rios Field Office Manager Connie Clementson told the Montezuma County commissioners Monday that the BLM national office informed her of its decision Friday. An MLP allows for scrutiny and planning of oil and gas leasing at a more detailed level than the field office’s overall management plan. In 2015 and early 2016, a regional working group solicited public input on the proposed MLP. Most of the comments supported creating the plan. However, the Montezuma County commissioners adamantly opposed it, saying it was not needed and would deter energy development. Clementson said the BLM had heard the county’s concerns and slashed the size for the MLP from the original 320,000 acres to about 71,000. Of the 44,000 acres in Montezuma County, most is near the Mesa Verde escarpment. Clementson said it’s not known when the MLP process will begin, but when it does, it will involve public meetings. In the meantime, any parcels nominated for leasing in the MLP area have been deferred. The commissioners expressed optimism that the change in presidential administrations may still result in the MLP decision being overturned.

- David Long contributed to this report

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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