Northwest Colorado property rights advocates vow to carry on


Oil & gas issues in Routt County

Longmont voters ban fracking

The city of Longmont already has been sued by the state of Colorado for going too far in limiting oil and gas development through its permit procedure. Now, the citizens of Longmont have voted to amend the city charter to ban hydraulic fracturing of oil wells and storage of the fluids used in the process in the city limits.

Tuesday’s vote in favor of the ban represented 59 percent of the total vote of more than 28,000 people, according to an article in The Denver Post. The question was petitioned onto the ballot.

Energy exploration in the city northeast of Boulder has been a hot issue since 2011, when an energy company proposed to drill near a reservoir.

The Post reported that energy industry advocates spent more than $500,000 opposing the ban, and citizens groups advocating for the ban spent more than $400,000 by the end of October.

Election 2012

Click here for coverage of this year's races and issues.

— After an Election Day that saw three of the four local candidates most closely aligned with their group lose, key players in Citizens Supporting Property Rights said Thursday that they will continue to engage elected officials and residents in Routt County.

“I certainly hope the membership remains engaged,” Hayden resident and Citizens Supporting Property Rights organizer Amy Williams said. “This is still an important issue, and we still have a very strong legal argument and position to advocate for.”

Citizens Supporting Property Rights is the advocacy group that formed in the midst of the 2012 political campaign to advocate for people in Routt County who have a financial stake in the Yampa Valley’s exploratory oil field, chiefly in the form of subsurface mineral rights. Members have taken umbrage at measures the Routt County Board of Commissioners has taken to place conditions of approval on new oil well permits that go beyond what the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires.

At stake is the potential for substantial royalty payments that could reach many thousands of dollars representing a percentage of the value of oil that comes out of the ground.

Three of the four candidates from Northwest Colorado whose views most closely matched up with those of Citizens Supporting Property Rights were defeated in Tuesday's election. The exception was Republican Randy Baumgardner, the winner in Senate District 8 race against Emily Tracy, a Democrat from Breckenridge.

Baumgardner stated emphatically throughout the campaign that existing state rules are more than sufficient to ensure oil exploration is carried out responsibly.

County commissioner candidate Jim “Moose” Barrows, who spoke out for property rights; commissioner candidate Tina Kyprios, who cautioned against running good oil companies out of Routt County and urged the community to address its fears on the issue; and House District 26 candidate Chuck McConnell, who emphasized energy exploration as the best way to increase employment opportunities, all were defeated by decisive margins in Routt County on Tuesday.

Barrows was defeated by South Routt Democrat Tim Corrigan, who said during the campaign that he supported the actions of the current Board of Commissioners and that the next step at the county level would be to focus on the social and economic impacts of energy exploration.

Kyprios lost to incumbent Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger, a Democrat and rancher who acknowledged during his candidacy that his position as a commissioner in regard to oil and gas regulations went a little past his personal comfort zone. However, he said his actions were reflective of what the majority of his constituents want to see in terms of responsible energy exploration.

McConnell lost to Diane Mitsch Bush, a Routt County commissioner who steadfastly has advocated for increased environmental protections in the wake of growing energy exploration interests here.

Asked Thursday if the election results were a disappointment, Harry Thompson, who moderated Citizens Supporting Property Rights’ candidate forums, said: “Yeah, I’m a little bit disappointed in the election, I would have like to have seen a more pro-business (county) commission.”

Going forward, Thompson said, he expects his group to continue to advocate for owners of mineral rights, but it won’t limit itself to energy-related issues.

“Want to see businesses be able to open and start and be successful here,” Thompson said. “We’re not just about the oil and gas thing, we’re about personal property rights for citizens. We’re not going away.”

Williams was philosophical about the election results.

“It was not overly surprising or disappointing. It just is what it is,” she said. “The thing about elections is that there are very few people who are single-issue voters. We’re advocating for property rights, but it’s just one issue among a broad, giant scope of issues.”

In a Sept. 19 letter to the Steamboat Today signed by Williams, Thompson, Jody Camilletti, of Milner, and Steve Elkins, of Steamboat Springs, the Citizens Supporting Property Rights leaders said their members don’t consider oil and gas companies either as enemies or friends but as business partners.

“Routt County farmers, ranchers and business owners are culturally patient and polite. Respect for neighbors and community has resulted in our silence,” they wrote. “But silence is no longer an option because a minority of individuals has taken things too far. So far, in fact, that our rights as landowners are being impacted. Now, as interest groups attempt to restrict or prohibit oil and gas development in our county, we’ve organized to provide a clear alternative view.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email


Bob Smith 4 years, 4 months ago

Property rights do not give you permission to trash Routt county.


Michelle Hale 4 years, 4 months ago

If you read any of the Federalist Papers, and what our Constitutional Rights were built upon.... Our Founding Fathers would disagree. YOUR personal concept of what you THINK of as trashing, is NOT true. Your concept, or mine has NO room in personal choice or how one chooses to use their land. No one cares for their land like those who Farm and Ranch it.It is their passion, and offen the only lifestyle they can see themselves having. I'm speaking of the REAL Farmers and Rancher, not those who have moved to this area, purchased land and "play" at it for a tax deduction. Within the Federalist Papers, and the writing of Adams, Maddison, and Jackson, the top concern was "the right to use the land, as the owner saw fit." What you or I think about how someone works their land is none of your business or mine. It belongs to the owner, end of story.


Harry Thompson 4 years, 4 months ago

Mr Smith, No one in our organization is advocating for anything other than the responsible removal of an asset (oil) that we own and pay taxes on.

The people that own these assets are often the same families that have and will continue to be here for generations. They have and will continue to be good stewards of the land.

There has always been a segment of people that feel that what truly trashes the county is all the homes and development. However, as Hazie Werner once said to a person that was complaining about people moving here. "hey we made room for you didn't we."

I would be happy to meet with you or anyone else that would like to discuss this issue over coffee. Let me know here and we can make arrangements.


Bob Smith 4 years, 4 months ago

If you frack on your land and it screws up the water of your neighbor, I wonder what Adams, Maddison, and Jackson would say about that...You want to clear-cut your entire lot(s) and have 50 drill sites fine. That's not what we are talking about.


Michelle Hale 4 years, 4 months ago

The fact is. 1. Well over a Millions wells have been punched in this country, and less than 1% have ever had an effect on the water. 2. There is a natural chance of comtamination, as it was in Indian Valley in Rio Blanco. A place called the "Pot Holes" was known by the Native American, as the water that burned. 3. Fracking has been around for many years, about 1947, and NOW it's and issue? 4. The water tables that we drink from are NOT at the same levels that the drilling takes place. 5. I look at this just as I look as a womans right to choose, its personal, and for the land owners, not the county. 6.; like it or not we all depend on Oil and Gas. Very little you touch is NOT effected or comes from Oil and Gas in one way or another. Plastics, Fabric Softner, Shampoo, Medical Supplies the list is very long, and the transportaion to get it where it needs to go. I support the idea of clean energy, but it will only service 25% of our needs, and it will take upto 25 to 45 years to get there. Our Electrical grid can not support it. What do you want to do in the mean time... freeze to death in the dark? Natural Gas by the way IS a clean/green energy!! I embrace it and knowing that we can make things better, and use it smarter, same for Coal.

There is NO free flowing oil, or gas. This is about JOBS, and to get away from the support of Foreign Oil, and make our nation strong. I was born and raised here, as were 5 generation before me. This county has ALWAYS been about energy, Coal, Oil and Gas. I know allot of people love the IDEA that Skiing , Hunting, Fishing, Biking and so on will make jobs and a good strong tax base, but its not so. The average Oil Field hand makes a starting wage of between 60,000.00 to 80,000.00 Is waiting on tables, cleaning rooms or working the ski lift going to do that? Is the every day person going to be able to afford even renting in the Land of the Rich and Removed for that low paying service job? Really?

One rig requires about 100 people. Everyone of those 100 people will touch and help support 10 business. This is NOT going to trash out county, it never has, its always been here. The first Rig here in Routt was on the Carpenter Ranch in the late 1800s, back when oil was close to the surface and water, and it had a "natural" flow. My Grandfather worked on rigs here in Routt and Wyoming, he died right after WWII, so there a time frame for you.

So, to answer your question. Maddison, Jackson, and Adams were PRO opportunity, and the rights of ALL Americans to embrace happiness, profit, and more important what ever it took to make this nation strong and keep it that way. I don't think they would have bought into the whole fear based, lack of knowledge, preaching. I think this is a good basic video I am going to give a link to. Fracking is NOT new.



Steve Lewis 4 years, 4 months ago

Much lies in one's judgment of what is required to 'keep this nation (or this county) strong".

Today, Routt County's greatest economic strength is it's clean mountain environment, it's clean air and clean water. Our tourism and many of our new residents are attracted to this quality, and these sectors account for a large number of our jobs. Thus it seems an obvious argument that Routt's future is kept strongest by maintaing a serious protection of it's environment.

The central argument presented in the Routt County Commissioner campaigns was about "how much oil and gas regulation?". The election result suggests a large majority of Routt believes we are achieving the right balance of regulation.

The recent well permit before the Routt County Planning Commission, for Shell Oil, requires yet another dedicated water quality monitoring well where domestic water is nearby. This makes complete sense to many of us. Notably, it also makes sense to Shell Oil.

Certainly the majority should respect minority rights, and property rights, to the extent this is practicable. But we have yet to hear of any specific infringement of Routt property rights! If you feel our regulations have gone too far, please cite where.


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