White River National Forest prepares to change oil and gas rules | SummitDaily.com

White River National Forest prepares to change oil and gas rules

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The U.S. Forest Service is preparing to update regulations on oil and gas drilling inside the White River National Forest. Officials plan to develop an environmental impact statement (EIS) that would revise the current rules, which took effect in 1993.

In the EIS, the Forest Service will identify the portions of the White River National Forest that will be available for resource extraction. Overall, the proposed plan would reduce the amount of land in the forest on which oil and gas leasing could occur. In Summit County, regulations on leases would be more restrictive than they are now.

Most of the 266,600 acres proposed to be designated as available for oil and gas leasing are located west of Summit County, near the towns of De Beque and Meeker.

“Everything to the east is either legally withdrawn or closed through management direction,” said project team leader David Francomb.

Ski areas, wilderness areas and “wild and scenic” river corridors are off limits to resource extraction.

The Forest Service will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, July 14, to provide information and seek public feedback on the proposal. Following the public outreach process, officials will develop a draft EIS, due out in winter 2011.

“Our goal is to complete this analysis in a timely and cost-effective manner while ensuring the resources of the White River National Forest are protected for future generations,” Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said. “As we move forward, we want to hear from the public. We need to know your issues and concerns regarding this decision.”

The Forest Service is asking that public comments be submitted no later than July 30.

SDN reporter Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.

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