In 2011, The Wilderness Society and San Juan Citizens Alliance proposed the San Juan Master Leasing Plan (see map on reverse side) in comments on the BLM’s Supplement to the Draft EIS/RMP for the Tres Rios Field Office. The proposal area includes lands in western La Plata County, and encompasses approximately 1.1 million acres. The following provides additional detail on the proposal area:
- Relevant RMP: San Juan/San Miguel RMP (1985); Tres Rios Proposed RMP (released in Sept. 2013).
- Total acres: 1,147,421
- % Federal Land: 66% (758,885 acres)
- % Federal Minerals: 78% (892,283 acres)
- % Not Leased: 69% (789,342 acres)
The boundaries of the MLP proposal closely track the boundaries of the Gothic Shale Play, where the industry plans to drill almost 1,770 new oil and gas wells over the next 15-20 years, including over 140 wells on split-estate lands (private surface/federal minerals). Thus, the San Juan MLP could help guide leasing and development and better protect resources throughout the Gothic Shale Play area.
The MLP could be particularly beneficial for western La Plata County, since in a recent lease sale environmental assessment, the BLM acknowledged that “even with the implementation of [best management practices]”, leasing and drilling in that area “would degrade water quality conditions potentially to the point of not meeting water quality standards.”
In June 2013, in response to recent the leasing proposals in western La Plata County, the La Plata Board of County Commissioners also asked for the preparation of an MLP. The BLM rejected that request, and has since formally denied the proposal submitted by the conservation groups. However, the BLM’s decision to reject the MLP is not consistent with the criteria that govern when MLPs must be prepared. Thus, there is ongoing interest and opportunities to push for an MLP for western La Plata County and surrounding areas.