BLM spokesman Jayson Barangan said the office will submit a proposal to Washington D.C., which will decide whether to approve the project.
“This decision is the result of information we got from the community involvement process,” Barangan said.
For two years, the BLM has been weighing the options of a Master Leasing Plan, which would put future oil and gas development in Montezuma and La Plata counties under the microscope.
Proponents of the plan say the BLM’s previous study, a resource management plan, failed to look at the overall impact to valued resources, such as the escarpment to Mesa Verde National Park and the Phil’s World biking system in Cortez.
Energy companies and Montezuma County commissioners opposed the master leasing plan, claiming that it would place hardship on future oil and gas development. The commissioners supported a plan amendment, however, that would exempt Phil’s World from oil and gas development.
At a meeting in Gunnison on Aug. 19, the Southwest Resource Advisory Committee hit an impasse on a the master leasing plan.
“The group could not pass a recommending resolution, so at this point it moves out of the advisory committee and over to the BLM to decide if the MLP goes forward or not,” said James Dietrich, a member of the local advisory committee, said at the time.
Barangan said the obvious public support for a closer look at future energy development prompted the Denver office to make its decision.
“From November 2015 to March 2016, this RAC (resource advisory committee) organized a subgroup that held several community meetings, which generated more than 350 pages of comments from more than 300 people,” he said.
“With this Master Leasing Plan, again, it just provides us with a tool for conducting land use planning and private leasing at a level that’s more focused in scope Resource Management Plan.”
Developing a master lease plan likely will take a year or longer and involve public input.
The Journal contributed to this report.