The U.S. Bureau of Land Management secured a $32.1 million oil and gas lease Thursday that includes acreage on both the Front Range and Pawnee National Grassland, The Denver Post reports. Despite cautions from environmental groups, which accused the BLM of ignoring pollution and climate concerns, about 75 percent of the 33,000 acres will be located on Pawnee Grassland.
The BLM reportedly sold 73 of the 86 land parcels, which included acreage in Arapahoe, Adams, Logan and Weld counties. The largest sale was a nearly 2,000 acre plot sold to oil and gas land acquisition company Ironhorse Resources LLC for $19.4 million.
Revenue from the sales will be split between Colorado, which will receive 49 percent, and the federal government, which will receive the remaining 51 percent.
The lease terms allow companies to erect horizontal wells but prohibit drill rigs and tanks. The impending oil and gas presence, however, weighed heavy on environmentalists’ minds.
“The Pawnee is a healthy prairie ecosystem, and federal lands on the plains are few and fair between,” said Jeremy Nichols, who heads the climate and energy program at WildEarth Guardians.
WildEarth alleges that BLM proceeded without properly assessing potential damages to the ecology, which the BLM dismissed as “too speculative to be useful.”
The Forest Service allows leasing on the land with no surface occupancy.
“Allowing mineral access with no surgace occupancy allows for resource development while minimizing the overall environmental impact on Pawnee,” Forests and Grassland supervisor Glenn Casamassa told the Post.