State wildlife officials warn Crestone on drilling impacts to numerous species

Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants construction done on timeline that protects nesting seasons, habitat

By: Amelia Arvesen, Boulder Daily Camera
January 21, 2018

Should Crestone Peak Resources be allowed to develop minerals under eastern Boulder County, burrowing owls, wintering bald eagles and the threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse could be among the animals impacted.

Acting as a voice for such animals, Colorado Parks and Wildlife requested that the Denver-based oil and gas company consider a construction timeline that would not disturb wildlife habitats or the creeks and floodplain.

“We’re trying to help them responsibly develop this site with as little to no impact to wildlife,” said Brandon Marette, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s northeast region energy liaison.

Marette said the recommendations are advisories based on Crestone’s third draft of its proposed plan to drill 140 wells within 10 square miles along the Colo. 52 corridor to the east of U.S. 287 between Lafayette and Longmont.

The latest rendition of the plan reflects consolidated well pads at new locations, including near Panama Reservoir, and the Boulder Creek and Coal Creek.

Crestone spokesman Jason Oates said Colorado Parks and Wildlife along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been involved since the start of the “Comprehensive Drilling Plan” (CDP), a new state process aimed at addressing all stakeholders’ concerns before getting the go-ahead from the state.

Oates said Crestone employs wildlife biologists and other experts to address concerns around conserving wildlife and their habitats, especially during nesting seasons.

A rule of thumb for operators is to avoid as best they can, minimize impacts, and, as a last resort, mitigate — such as building walls to keep operations out of birds’ views.

“With a bird of prey or a raptor, like an eagle, you have to do surveys in certain times of year to ensure they aren’t using a nest,” Oates said. “If they are present when you do these surveys, then you cannot use it for a period of time.”

But Matt Sandler, an attorney with Rocky Mountain Wild, a Denver-based organization working to keep oil and gas out of the more sensitive wildlife areas, said mitigation works until it doesn’t, for instance when leaks happen.

“Is that bald eagle going to be there in a few years? Probably not,” Sandler said. “They’re going to try, but when you’re doing development of that scale, there’s always going to be some contamination.”

Read more at the Boulder Daily Camera.

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