May 23, 2006
Contact: Lesley A. Collins
BLM Announces Scoping on Fortification Creek POD
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Buffalo Field Office is requesting public comments on the Fortification Creek Area (FCA) Plan of Development Proposal (POD). Under the proposal, BLM is preparing environmental assessments (EAs) for seven coalbed natural gas (CBNG) PODs in the FCA of the Powder River Basin (PRB).
The 100,000 acre Fortification Creek Area is located approximately 25 miles northwest of Gillette. Special resource values in the area include: an isolated elk herd and its habitat, high visual quality, a 12,000 acre wilderness study area (WSA), steep slopes with erosive soils, and cultural, historic, and or paleontological values.
As part of the continuing development of CBNG resources in the PRB, development is now being proposed in the leased areas of the FCA, which include all the federal minerals outside the WSA.
Seven PODs, proposed by six different companies, include a total of 158 CBNG wells to be drilled along with installation of associated facilities. The surface disturbance for these PODs is estimated to be approximately 350 acres. Along with the individual PODs, the companies have submitted 4 maps of the FCA showing an estimate of total known development planned for the area. They have worked together to identify common primary access and utility corridors. BLM will use these maps and additional information supplied by the companies to conduct the cumulative effects analysis for the EAs. There is a section of state land in the center of the WSA that also has been leased by the state for oil and gas development. In order for the company to access that lease, they must obtain a Right-of-Way across public land.
“The BLM is specifically soliciting input on development in this area because of the degree of interest in the FCA resources and BLM’s planning decisions to manage the FCA to retain those sensitive resource values. The CBNG industry has proposed to take additional measures and employ best management practices in this area to assist BLM in managing those resource values,” noted Buffalo Field Office Manager Chris Hanson.
EAs for these PODs will be tiered to the PRB Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The PRB Environmental Impact Statement (PRB EIS) was completed in 2003. The PRB EIS contained extensive analysis of the effects of CBNG development upon water, air, wildlife and other resources throughout the PRB. Since approval of the PRB EIS, numerous individual PODs have been permitted through a site-specific environmental analysis (EA) conducted by BLM.
BLM would like your comments relative to this and future CBNG development in the FCA. A scoping notice, a fact sheet and maps showing the FCA, proposed PODs, and the companies known future development, can be viewed on the BLM Buffalo Field Office website at http://www.wy.blm.gov/nepa/bfodocs/fortification_creek. The above material will also be available for review at the Buffalo Field Office.
Scoping comments will be accepted for 30 days. The scoping period will end on June 23, 2006. Comments may be submitted by mail to:
Bureau of Land Management
Attn. Paul Beels
1425 Fort Street
Buffalo, WY 82834
Comments may also be submitted electronically to the project email address: Fort_Crk_WYMail@blm.gov.