The Latest: Protective settlement reached for Roan Plateau

Industry and environmentalists compromised on the embattled Colorado mesa.

  • Roan Plateau


In 2003, the Bureau of Land Management helped kick off an intense fight over western Colorado’s Roan Plateau, home to big game, endemic plants, backcountry recreation — and vast stores of natural gas. The agency had worked with local communities to develop a plan that would have restricted drilling on the plateau’s top and designated part as potential wilderness, but then abandoned it  (“BLM sinks local input to drill Roan Plateau,” HCN, 9/1/03). Though the BLM later decided to limit the amount of land companies were allowed to develop or disturb, lawsuits continued.


In November, environmental groups and the energy company Bill Barrett Corp. announced a landmark settlement that protects 90 percent of the federal land on the plateau’s top, while allowing some drilling at its base. Under its terms, the BLM must consider the settlement as a possible management option. “Given the broad support from both industry and conservationists, I have hope that the BLM will adopt it,” says Earthjustice attorney Mike Freeman.

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