Colorado PWC to Vote on Big Game Seasons and Energy Projects

   01.09.12

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will set season dates for 2012 big game hunting seasons and establish license numbers for bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons during its monthly meeting on Jan. 12 in Denver.

The Commission is also expected to vote on a request to authorize Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Rick Cables to negotiate and finalize a surface use agreement that would allow energy development from one well pad at St. Vrain State Park in Longmont.

The meeting is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hunter Education Building on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife campus at 6060 Broadway in Denver. Commissioners will reconvene for a Friday morning workshop focused on the merger between Colorado State Parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

In addition to establishing season dates Thursday, Commissioners will consider more than two dozen changes to big game regulations. Among the proposed changes are the modification of a liberal late youth unfilled-elk license program in the Northwest Region as a result of the agency’s success in reducing elk numbers to meet population objectives, the creation of a new antlerless, private-land-only deer season around the town of Salida to address deer conflicts and institution of limited bighorn sheep ewe hunting in certain sheep units. Other changes would continue to expand pronghorn hunting opportunity in the Southeast Region and create a new mountain goat hunting unit in the Ten Mile Range.

In October, the Parks and Wildlife Commission directed staff to continue to investigate ways to develop mineral rights owned by Colorado Parks and Wildlife at St. Vrain State Park while protecting natural resources and visitor experience.  The park lies within the highly productive Wattenberg Oil Field and has producing oil and gas wells on its periphery.  Colorado Parks and Wildlife owns mineral rights on 439 of the park’s 688 acres.

For the past two years parks staff has worked with the State Land Board, which has extensive mineral leasing expertise, to evaluate all protections that would be necessary to ensure that both the visitor experience and quality of the environment are protected if the Commission approved mineral development.

As the mineral rights owner, Colorado Parks and Wildlife can negotiate directly with a prospective operator to secure the highest level of protections for park users, wildlife, water quality and other natural resources.  Developing the minerals on park land will provide the maximum control over environmental protections. If Colorado Parks and Wildlife did not opt to develop the mineral rights, the resources could still be removed from across the park boundary, but royalties paid to the state would be significantly less.

On Thursday, staff is expected to recommend that the Commission authorize Director Cables to negotiate and enter into an oil and gas lease and surface use agreement to develop the minerals from one well pad of approximately 10 acres in the most rural section of the park.  If approved, drilling and completion of wells at the site would likely not occur until in 2013.

In other business, Commissioners will be asked to approve a surface use agreement with DeJour Energy for energy development on the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area. The 13,172-acre state wildlife area is critical winter range purchased to help reduce agricultural conflicts with local producers.

Unlike at St. Vrain State Park, Colorado Parks and Wildlife does not own the mineral rights under Garfield Creek SWA, which were leased to DeJour by the Bureau of Land Management. The surface use agreement would allow DeJour to develop three well pads with a total disturbance of 11.5 acres on the state wildlife area.

The agreement addresses mineral leases, soils, geology, biological inventory, water quality and sampling, transportation, wetlands and riparian areas, vegetation, weeds, drilling schedules, spill prevention, interim reclamation and emergency response. Compensation for pad sites, wells and pipeline easements will be $207,660, plus $40,000 additional on-site mitigation compensation in the form of projects such as irrigation systems or wildlife food plots.

On Friday morning, Commissioners will convene a workshop to discuss several topics related to the merger of the former Colorado State Parks and the Division of Wildlife, including the presentation of a merger implementation plan developed by a Transition Team of parks and wildlife employees.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is a 14-member board appointed by the governor. The Parks and Wildlife Commission sets regulations and policies for Colorado’s state parks wildlife programs. The complete agenda for the January Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting can be found on the Commission web page at:
http://wildlife.state.co.us/ParksWildlifeCommission/Archives/2012/Pages/January12-13_2012.aspx.

The Parks and Wildlife Commission meets monthly and travels to communities around the state to facilitate public participation in its processes. The first three meetings of 2012 will take place in the Hunter Education Building at 6060 Broadway in Denver. For the remainder of 2012, the commission will hold meetings in Pueblo, Grand Junction, Craig, Sterling, Gunnison, Glenwood Springs, Durango, Yuma and Colorado Springs.

Members of the public who are unable to attend Commission meetings or workshops can listen to the proceedings through an Internet link. This opportunity is provided to keep constituents better informed about the development of regulations by the Board and how they are working with Parks and Wildlife staff to manage parks, wildlife and outdoor recreation programs administered by the agency.

To access the live audio feed during the meeting, click on the “listen to live audio” link at the bottom of the Commission webpage at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/ParksWildlifeCommission/Pages/Commission.aspx.

Read More