I gathered with other interested people to listen to Scott Fitzwilliams, supervisor for the White River National Forest, speak on the current status of oil and gas leases in Four Mile Park in Garfield and Pitkin counties.
The BLM was meeting with SG Interests (the company holding the leases for development) and other stakeholders to begin collecting data to conduct an environmental impact statement on the leases. This is the beginning stage for moving the process forward to approve or deny drilling in this portion of the Thompson Divide region. I would like to thank Scott for meeting with us for a very informative discussion. I learned some important facts:
• The Forest Service has already informed the Garfield County commissioners that it will not build an alternate route from East Divide Creek for trucks carrying equipment, water, chemicals and ancillary facilities to drill sites in and near Four Mile Park. So, if drilling is approved up Four Mile, the traffic will move up Four Mile Road; unless the county commissioners take formal action to remove this county road as an official haul route for oil and gas development (which they have not done to date).
• The Forest Service has reminded the county commissioners that the commissioners are the only officials with authority to close Four Mile Road to oil and gas traffic. Why haven’t they taken formal action on this issue when they continue to assure the public that they are committed to doing so?
The Garfield County commissioners keep telling the public that they oppose oil and gas industrial traffic on Four Mile Road. Are they being honest with us? Let’s look at their actions:
• The Garfield County commissioners are currently spending millions of taxpayer dollars to improve Four Mile Road.
• They built a bridge that cost in excess of $1 million into the Oak Meadows subdivision, where SG Interests holds a lease to drill. Under normal circumstances, this bridge would be unnecessary.
• Against overwhelming public opposition, they approved a contract to blast the mountain near Black Diamond Road and straighten the curve. This is a beautiful geologic feature and a natural traffic-calming device. The new design accommodates faster speeds and industrial traffic.
• They approved a contract to pave all the way to Sunlight. Why is the county making these improvements? Who will benefit?
It is my opinion that through action taken by our county commissioners, we as taxpayers are paying to open this area up for oil and gas development. Now is the time to become involved. The BLM has begun the process to identify what values need to be protected should development move forward. Please attend a gathering on July 13, from 4-7 p.m. at Two Rivers Park, to learn more about the issues.