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Crestone Eagle, September 2006:
Lexam & Colo. Oil & Gas Com. reps to attend meeting on drilling in Baca Wildlife Refuge September 12
by Lisa Cyriacks
Ron Garcia, Manager of the Baca Wildlife Refuge,
and Jim Spehar, Sonoran Institute, are convening a second
meeting on oil and gas development. This meeting is scheduled
for Tuesday, September 12, at the Baca Grande POA Hall, 6:30-8:30pm.
Representatives of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation
Commission and Lexam Explorations will be present at the meeting
to present information about the application that has been
made to the state, the scope of the work intended, the rights
of property owners, and information about avenues to mitigate
the impact of the proposed exploration and drilling.
At the first meeting held in August, Ron Garcia and Jim Spehar,
presented the information currently available to them and
a proposed strategy for developing a coordinated plan to deal
with concerns from the refuge, the Baca subdivision, and surrounding
community. Information from the August meeting is already
posted on the Saguache County website: www.saguachecounty.net,
including a resources list of where to find additional information.
An informed perspective is critical. Do not miss this opportunity
to ask questions about the regulatory process involved in
mineral exploration and development, and inform yourself about
Sometime in the past, the mineral rights were severed from
the surface rights of the Baca Ranch (which includes the Baca
Grande subdivision and the area above the subdivision). With
the recent acquisition of the land, the federal government
also acquired the water rights, but not the mineral rights.
Lexam Explorations, Inc., Toronto, Canada, currently owns
100% interest in the hard mineral rights and a 75% interest
in the oil and gas rights. The remaining 25% interest is owned
US Fish and Wildlife, the federal agency that manages the
surface rights, has a legal mandate to accommodate the exploration
and development of mineral interests; but also has a mandate
to protect the resources on the refuge by laying out the concerns
about surface impacts due to the drilling. At this time, Lexam
Explorations has agreed to negotiate on how the drilling and
exploration will be done. There are federal regulations that
apply, and US Fish and Wildlife is complying with the procedures
that apply. Ron Garcia, as refuge manager, stated his intention
to seek the most effective and environmentally friendly way
through this process.
Jim Spehar of the Sonoran Institute has background in dealing
with these industries in other areas in Colorado. Oil and
gas exploration is growing exponentially in the West and in
Colorado. As part of their ongoing commitment to Saguache
County, the Sonoran Institute has agreed to facilitate these
discussions with Lexam, the Wildlife Refuge, and community
representatives—creating a “negotiation team”
utilizing best practices developed in other communities in
the West. Jim also advocated creating a short-term approach
and a long-term strategy for dealing with any future possibilities
for drilling in the San Luis Valley.
Concerns that were raised by the audience at the August meeting,
included general health and safety issues, potential negative
impacts on air and water quality, impact to the wildlife and
the sensitive environment protected by the Baca Wildlife Refuge—including
wetlands, temporary vs. permanent impacts from drilling, sound
levels creating by the drilling, the current political climate
which may not afford citizens much protection, watershed protection,
protecting our homes and quality of life.
Additional information can be found at: www.saguachecounty.net.
Or you can contact Ron Garcia at the Baca National Wildlife
Refuge 719-256-5527; email@example.com or Jim Spehar at
the Sonoran Institute Central Rockies Office 970-263-9635;
to the Eagle!