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 14, 2010

Contact: Michael Blenden (719)589- 4021 ext.1001

              Laurie Shannon (303) 236-4317

 

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO HOLD A PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE

TO IDENTIFY ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION ON  

BACA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Public Comments Regarding the Lexam Proposal Will Be Received Until November 10, 2010

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will hold a public open house on October 26, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. at the Colorado College Baca Conference Center.

 

The purpose of this open house is to solicit concerns and issues for the Service to consider in a new environmental analysis of Lexam Explorations, Inc.’s proposal to explore natural gas or oil resources they own, underlying the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. This new analysis is the product of a settlement agreement between the parties in a 2007 lawsuit filed by the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council and the Citizens for San Luis Valley Water Protection Coalition against the Service challenging the Service's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.  The end product will be either an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact or, if the federal action is determined to have a significant effect on the environment, an Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision.

 

In 2006 Lexam proposed drilling two exploratory wells on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge to assess the potential for marketable quantities of natural gas or oil.  The current operating plan provided by Lexam for these exploration activities is available at: http://www.fws.gov/alamosa/bacaNWR.html

 

If you cannot attend this meeting, comments can be sent electronically to BacaScopingComments@fws.gov.  Comments during this scoping period will be accepted until Wednesday, November 10, 2010.

 

The Baca National Wildlife Refuge was authorized with passage of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Act of 2000.  It was established in 2003 and expanded in 2004 with acquisition of the Baca Ranch.  The legislated purpose of the refuge is to restore, enhance, and maintain wetland, upland, riparian, and other habitats for native wildlife, plant, and fish species in the San Luis Valley. 

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 548 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.                                                                                                  -FWS-