Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and 10 energy companies have completed wildlife mitigation agreements that will protect 354,407 acres on Colorado’s Western Slope. (See map
for specific locations.)
The agreements, pursuant to amended rules adopted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, will protect more than 550 square miles of land within the Piceance Basin of western Colorado that is designated as important habitat for elk, deer, raptors, sage grouse and cutthroat trout.
As of October 2010, nine companies have negotiated Wildlife Mitigation Plan agreements with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. They include: Encana Oil and Gas, Antero Resources, Noble Energy, Williams, Marathon Oil Company, Black Hills Energy, PDC Energy, Petroleum Development Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corporation. Williams has negotiated two plans with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
By consulting with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife on how to prevent or mitigate impacts from drilling, oil and gas operators will be able to secure approvals for thousands of natural gas wells in a more expeditious fashion. The agreements also provide the energy companies and their project planners with additional certainty. Colorado Parks and Wildlife will continue to work with operators to negotiate habitat protections and improvement projects in some of Colorado’s highest priority wildlife habitat.
Governor Bill Ritter hailed the completion of the first nine wildlife agreements at an August 2010 press conference.
“These wildlife protection plans are another example of how Colorado’s New Energy Economy is creating jobs and leading America toward a new energy future,” Gov. Ritter said. “By working together, we are protecting important wildlife habitat while also responsibly developing our energy resources. This balanced approach will drive our economy forward, allow us to maximize our vast energy resources and ensure sustainable communities for years to come.”
In addition, Delta Petroleum separately negotiated an agreement with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to limit the number of well pads on acreage it is developing in Mesa County. In 2009, Gunnison Energy Corp completed the first Comprehensive Drilling Plan with the COGCC under the new rules.
The participating companies were able to use three different tools available under the state’s amended oil and gas rules to protect wildlife habitat: wildlife mitigation agreements, comprehensive drilling plans and voluntary density and timing restrictions. The rules were developed following the legislature’s adoption of House bills 1298 and 1341 in 2007.
CPW is conducting ongoing negotiations over future Wildlife Mitigation Agreements with a number of operators who intend to develop gas resources located in sensitive wildlife habitat or restricted surface occupancy areas as defined by COGCC rules. For more information on the initial group of nine wildlife mitigation agreements, please see this Aug. 12, 2010 memo (pdf) from Bob Randall, deputy director of the Department of Natural Resources, to the COGCC. Information about additional agreements will be posted here as it becomes available.
Wildlife Mitigation Plan maps