EN-03-2-Roan Plateau Management

WHEREAS the Roan Plateau has long been recognized for its mineral resources, with 56,000 acres set aside as the former Naval Oil Shale Reserve (NOSR), and an estimated one trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath the 48,000-acre NOSR 1 portion of the Plateau alone (enough gas to supply heat for 500,000 homes for 20 years), and is an issue of national concern, and

WHEREAS  the Roan Plateau has long been recognized for its unique contribution to biological diversity within the state of Colorado, the Southern Rocky Mountain and Utah High Plateau ecoregions, and

WHEREAS  Congress transferred management of the Roan Plateau from the Department of Energy to the Bureau of Land Management in 1997 with the expressed instructions “… for the purposes of issuing leases for petroleum and natural gas exploration, development, and production,” as issued in accordance with the requirements of the Mineral Leasing Act, as managed in accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, which specifies that “public lands be managed in a manner that will protect the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, will preserve and protect certain public lands in their natural condition…”, and other laws applicable to the public lands, and

WHEREAS  the Roan Plateau is the most biologically diverse landscape of its size existing in an unprotected status to be found in Colorado and has been an important part of western Colorado’s traditional multiple-use experience, providing abundant recreational opportunities, natural resources, wildlife habitat, and unique environmental values; and as each municipal government in Garfield County and the Garfield County Board of Commissioners have submitted formal comments to the Bureau of Land Management emphasizing the importance of providing strong protections for the Roan Plateau’s natural, wildlife and environmental resources, and

WHEREAS  BLM has shown through current regulations that the valuable environmental qualities of the Roan Plateau can be conserved through the application of  No Surface Occupancy and Controlled Surface Use stipulations in areas deemed sensitive on the Plateau’s top, and that industry has shown that current technology and best management practices will allow for proper development of the Plateau’s unique energy resources while minimizing environmental impacts, maximizing reclamation of impacted areas, and mitigating unavoidable impacts, and

WHEREAS directional drilling from the base of the Roan Plateau to access natural gas reserves beneath the Plateau is currently neither technologically feasible nor economical, and it will therefore require that drilling be done from the top of the Plateau in order to develop effectively these resources, and with reasonable and feasible visual mitigation, and

WHEREAS over a period of 7 years, the Bureau of Land Management prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that culminated in the June 2007 Record of Decision that provides critical protections for fish and wildlife habitat, plants, special places, viewsheds, and traditional recreation and other uses of the plateau, and also allows for very restricted and limited energy development that would require using the latest directional drilling techniques, and

WHEREAS responsible natural gas exploration and development compatible with environmentally sensitive area protection requires a variety of land management tools, innovations, and public and private collaborations;


  1. Supports implementation of the multiple-use management plan for the Roan Plateau that adheres to the full legislative intent of the transfer of jurisdiction of former Naval Oil Shale Reserve (NOSR) lands to BLM, to be managed in accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act and other laws applicable to public lands,
  2. Supports a reasonable and feasible visual impact mitigations as well,
  3. Is opposed to any surface spacing under 40 acres on the Plateau top in order to minimize disturbance and incurrence;
  4. Supports taking into account the position of the municipal and county governments of Garfield County, thereby providing for the appropriate development of the Plateau’s energy sources in a manner and at a pace that is in balance with appropriate traditional multiple uses while ensuring meaningful protection of the Plateau’s unique environmental, scenic, and recreational values, and
  5. Recognizes that this is an issue of national importance and that development of this resource should be pursued expeditiously in accordance with these tenets.

Adopted 9/5/2003

Amended 9/10/2010

Renewed 4/1/2016