Colorado ranchers and sportsmen have hatched a novel plan to protect 220,000 acres of high-country public land from oil and gas drilling: Buy back the leases from energy companies.
The opening offer — $2.5 million, or $2 per acre, the amount the companies paid for the leases when they were auctioned by the Bureau of Land Management nearly a decade ago — was rejected as too low.
But the Thompson Divide Coalition said it can raise as much as $50 million to buy nonproducing leases and protect an area spanning five counties south of Glenwood Springs that supports the region’s robust tourism and agricultural economies.
Theirs is a free-market alternative to complex litigation and the confrontational battle now being waged by Front Range anti-fracking activists.
“These leases aren’t a game-changer for the industry but are a significant game-changer for our ranchers, hunters and communities,” coalition director Zane Kessler said. “We want to make companies whole on their investment — and preserve this area for hunters, ranchers and recreationists.”
Read more at DenverPost.com.