Note: This article is a sidebar to one of this issue's feature stories, "Open for business."
Mike Foate, who ranches north of Arvada, Wyo., has developed a Web site - powderriverbasin.org. - for landowners concerned about coalbed methane development in the area. He says he decided to go online to try to get information out to his neighbors:
"I think the lack of information out there can be divisive. Already this issue has the ability to pit neighbor against neighbor ' I don't want to see relationships destroyed. The industry's philosophy has been to fragment the community. We are trying to counter that by sharing information on everything from surface-damage agreements to rental rates and water-quality issues.
"Everyone figures the ranchers are getting rich up here. But a lot of people don't have their mineral rights. They're not getting rich, they're just watching their ranches get torn up. Making sure that the operators stick to surface damage agreements becomes a full-time policing job for many surface owners."
Copyright © 2000 HCN and Molly Absolon