Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in Southwest Colorado is home to world class recreation, including mountain biking, hiking, and more. The BLM’s Tres Rios Field Office abuts the popular Mesa Verde National Park and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Tres Rios also contains some of the finest mountain biking in Colorado at Phil’s World, an extensive network of hiking trails, essential habitat and migration corridors for numerous species, important cultural sites, and prolific agricultural lands. Yet oil and gas development in the region threatens many of these resources that provide outstanding recreation opportunities and serve as an economic engine for Southwest Colorado.
Through a proposed “master leasing plan” (MLP) the BLM’s Tres Rios Field Office could effectively and fairly balance the management of approximately 323,000 acres, 80,000 of which fall within the federal oil and gas estate. Currently only 6,220 acres within the proposed Tres Rios MLP boundary have been leased and the recently finalized Resource Management Plan (RMP) closed 13,600 acres that fall within the two Wilderness Study Areas. This leaves 66,422 acres open for oil and gas leasing, including 34,281 that are managed under a waivable “no surface occupancy stipulation” in the RMP.
A Tres Rios MLP would allow the BLM to conduct additional landscape-level analyses to address the potential cumulative impacts of oil and gas development on an area where there is likely to be conflict over multiple uses or other resources and values. BLM can then develop targeted stipulations for new leases and, importantly, also develop conditions of approval and best management practices for permits to drill on new and existing leases. See below a fact sheet and maps for more information about why a Tres Rios MLP could provide long lasting benefits and certainty to multiple use management of BLM lands in Southwestern Colorado.