DELTA – Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison Forests (GMUG) Supervisor Charlie Richmond signed a decision this week to “consent to lease” certain lands for geothermal resource development. The recently completed environmental analysis of effects looked at the potential to lease approximately 3, 800 acres of National Forest System (NFS) surface-managed lands within Gunnison County.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the responsible agency for overseeing the leasing of federal mineral, gas and energy estates. However, on NFS lands, the Forest Service manages the surface resources and provides “stipulations” necessary to protect those resources to the BLM for inclusion in a leasing decision. Richmond’s decision to offer his consent to allow the potential lease of geothermal resources also includes “stipulations” (required protections) to protect: geologic, surface water, and ground water resources; Canada lynx, Gunnison sage grouse, big game winter range, bald eagle winter concentration areas, raptors, and current and future threatened and endangered species; cultural and paleontological resources; existing powerlines, visuals and ongoing recreation opportunities.
This decision does not authorize surface disturbing activities. Should the land be leased by BLM and subsequent development be proposed, additional environmental analysis would be required.
Richmond stated, “I carefully considered the information in the analysis and the extent of the required stipulations as I made my decision.” He went on to state that while there are some significant requirements to protect surface resources, some of the benefits of this decision include the potential to: provide an opportunity to develop renewable energy sources that can lead to clean sources of energy; reduce or off-set possible greenhouse gas emissions; and provide economic benefits to the surrounding communities.
Copies of the Geothermal Lease Nomination COC-73584 EA and decision may be downloaded from the Internet at: www.fs.usda.gov/gmug under “Land and Resource Management”, “Projects”, “All Projects”, “Geothermal Lease Mod COC-73584.”
Contact: Lee Ann Loupe, External Communications Staff Officer 970/874-6717.