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Glenwood Springs Pilot Office

The Glenwood Springs Pilot Office is responsible for 567,000 acres of BLM-administered surface estate and 776,000 acres of mineral estate. The office also supports development activity on 1.5 million acres of mineral estate located within the National Forest System. These public lands encompass all or portions of Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, and Routt Counties of Northwestern Colorado. 

The office provides for a variety of resource uses, including livestock grazing, firewood cutting, oil and gas development, big game hunting, rafting, and motorized and non-motorized recreation. The lands are important to the communities for recreation, wildlife habitat, and open space.

The Glenwood Springs Pilot Office is faced with a variety of urban interface issues as Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield Counties experience some of the fastest growth rates in Colorado. Many new residents are choosing to live outside town/community centers, and these new neighbors have diverse expectations and demands for public lands adjacent to small communities facing intensive growth pressures. The White River National Forest, the country's most heavily used National Forest, also lies within the area administered by the Glenwood Springs Office.
The pilot office manages four wilderness study areas and 14 developed recreation areas, including six access sites to the Colorado and Eagle Rivers.  Approximately 90 outfitters and guides are available under permit to assist visitors in a variety of upland and river activities. The pilot office also administers 255 grazing allotments with 151 permittees, while issuing 300–400 applications for permits to drill (APDs) and 50–60 rights-of-way (ROWs) each year and evaluating five to ten land exchange proposals made each year by a variety of proponents. 

In 1997 Congress ordered the transfer to BLM of approximately 56,000 acres of Department of Energy Naval Oil Shale Reserves lands northwest of Rifle, known as the Roan Plateau. This area is currently the focus of land use planning and allocation decisions involving a spectrum of uses. Primary issues are the rate and density of development, and the consequences on wildlife, visual resources and nearby residential communities. Public interest in this area is high.

The Glenwood Springs Pilot Office processed 25 percent more APDs in FY 2007 than in FY 2005 – the year before the Pilot Project was established – and completed nearly four times as many inspections. The office completed 736 environmental inspections last year, compared with 102 in 2005. Over the same period, the number of both environmental and technical violations declined; the 2007 environmental inspections required only 12 enforcement actions.

Interagency staff co-located in Glenwood Springs have been organized into an interdisciplinary team (IDT) composed of a wildlife biologist, ecologists, hydrologists, geologists, and paleontologists who work across agency jurisdictional boundaries on energy program tasks. IDT members participate regularly in pre-construction visits to proposed drilling sites and post-construction inspections. The benefits of identifying possible environmental issues before problems arise, working cooperatively with operators to avoid or minimize problems, and remedying unanticipated problems quickly are reflected in the reduced incidence of violations.

The Glenwood Springs office has also initiated outreach meetings with local residents to increase public understanding of the permitting process, drilling practices, and how inspection and enforcement protect surface and down-hole resources. 

Last updated: 10-20-2009