Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

 

October 22, 2008

Contacts:  Mike Blenden 719-589-4021
                 Barb Perkins 303-236-4588              

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Protection Measures for Exploratory Wells on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge in

Southern Colorado

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined a Finding of No Significant Impact for the final environmental assessment of the ‘Planned Oil and Gas Exploration on Baca National Wildlife Refuge, in Saguache County, Colorado.’  The Service is proposing stipulations and recommendations to protect the surface estate and other resources of the Baca National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) from unreasonable damage during all phases of the oil and gas exploration to be conducted by Lexam Explorations (U.S.A.) Inc.  This includes drilling two exploratory gas wells on the Refuge.  Any additional exploration wells or activities supporting the production of natural gas or oil will be analyzed through an additional and separate public process.  The Service seeks to protect refuge resources while honoring Lexam’s vested rights to explore the mineral estate they own.

The draft environmental assessment was released in January 2008 for public review.  The Service addressed all comments in the final environmental assessment.  The preferred alternative outlines 63 terms and conditions which ensure the exploration program will not have a significant impact on the human environment.  Of particular interest are those that minimize disturbance to wildlife by restricting the seasons of exploration activity to not interfere with migratory bird breeding and big game calving; minimize the risk of ground and surface water contamination; eliminate impacts to wetland habitat, sensitive fish populations and plant types; reduce conditions that would encourage noxious weed infestations; manage surface dust; and reduce air pollution from exploration activities.  Appendix C in the final environmental assessment contains a full description of all the identified terms and conditions.

Copies of the final Environmental Assessment are available for viewing or downloading on the Service’s website at: http://www.fws.gov/alamosa/BacaNWR.html .  Those without internet access may request copies by calling the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex at 719-589-4021.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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