There comes a point when you have to ask the question, “Are you managing parks or mineral exploration?”
I thought when we merged the Colorado Division of Wildlife with Colorado State Parks that the selling out to the mineral crowd would stop. Instead the proposals and projects are popping up all over the place.
Link and article from the Reporter Herald which is a local paper out of Loveland Colorado.
FORT COLLINS -- Colorado State Parks is considering getting into the mineral business with two possible oil wells at St. Vrain State Park near Longmont.
Officials are looking at the best -- and least harmful to the environment -- way to tap mineral resources under the state park before a private company beats them to the well.
"The resources are going to be drilled anyway," said Theo Stein, spokesman for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission.
"Resources can be reached from outside the state park."
Instead, wildlife commissioners hope to permit two wells on the boundaries of the park with drilling only in the fall -- the least intrusive time to nesting birds and visitors.
"I think it is important folks understand we are looking at a unique situation here," said Bob Streeter, commission member from Fort Collins. "We're not making a broad recommendation about mineral development in state parks. We're moving forward to make sure we maintain control of the process."
St. Vrain State Park is located just off Interstate 25 at Colorado 119 on the site of former gravel mines. The 604 acres boast ponds, fishing, wildlife and camping.
And underneath the land is oil. Unlike other state parks, the state actually owns 439 acres of mineral rights below the park, giving it the opportunity to tap that resource and make an estimated $400,000 per year. The money, according to project staff, would help an already strapped state parks and wildlife system.
But, according to the wildlife commission at a meeting in Fort Collins this week, the proposal is about more than the money. It is also about drilling in the least harmful way to the environment because officials say if the state doesn't drill, a private company will.
The resources could be accessed from neighboring land, and if that happened, the state would have no say on when or how much or how to mitigate environmental issues.
The process itself, however, could cause some environmental concern. The horizontal drilling procedure the state is looking at entails fracking -- a practice the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday may have caused groundwater pollution.
Wildlife commissioners expressed concern about fracking, which experts assured them was safe, as well as harm to wildlife, water and the land. However, they authorized parks staff to keep looking at the possibility and how to mitigate any issues.
The state hopes to apply for a drilling permit within the next few months from the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission with hopes of drilling by next winter.
This would be the second state park to have wells drilled but the only one in which the state owns the mineral rights.
"It's unlikely this will set a precedent because (state parks) do not own a lot of mineral rights," Stein added.
Pamela Dickman can be reached at 669-5050, ext. 526, or email@example.com
St. Vrain is one of the state’s top 5 visited destinations in the cadre of Colorado State Parks properties that just so happens to have a sizeable oil deposit. Rather than have a private firm go through the permitting\public approval process, State Parks would prefer to run the show by contracting out to a 3rd party for control and maximum profit. The contracting agency will be labeled the bad guy if anything goes wrong and when fracking happens near water it is never the same again. If State Parks can do this here, they can do it just about anywhere.
Over the last few years I have seen State Parks sell out and do more harm in regards to the land they manage. I thought the merging of the parks would end this lunacy…now it seems to only have given them more power, more ambiguity and the public still is in the dark as to what this State Parks agency’s goal really is.