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September 09, 2008 1:01 am

BLM seeks comments on McCullough Peaks drilling

Written by Tribune Staff

The Cody Bureau of Land Management is seeking comments on a proposed natural gas drilling project in McCullough Peaks within the wild horse management area and will host a public meeting to discuss it from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Bighorn Federal Community Room, 1701 Stampede Ave in Cody.

According to a bureau notice, the proposed project area is situated on approximately 12 sections (7,680 acres) inside the Rocktober Federal Unit in the McCullough Peaks area.

“Three-quarters of the unit has the HMA (Horse Management Area) in it,” said Ann Perkins, BLM planning and environmental coordinator.
“I am totally against it (drilling) myself,” said Ken Martin, who operates Red Canyon Mustang Trips in Cody.

Martin fears for the wild horses and aesthetics. He said if the wells hit pay dirt, it will soon resemble Oregon Basin.

Three of the seven wells would be in the Horse Management Area with compressor station outside the HMA. Two of the wells are under application, the other five would only be drilled if the first two wells are productive, Perkins said.

Perkins encourages the public to attend Wednesday's meeting.

“We would appreciate it if different stake-holders and members of the public attend the public scoping meeting to share their concerns, comments and any solutions so the BLM can make an informed decision,” Perkins said.

Martin said he is well aware of the crucial need for oil and gas, but said if the bureau allows drilling in the McCullough Peaks area, he hopes best management practices are employed to ensure that drilling is low-impact and does not compromise the scenic views.

Martin drives tourists to the horses. Many of his groups prefer visiting the McCullough Peaks to trips in Yellowstone National Park because the peaks offer tranquil surroundings without crowds of cars and people.

Drilling could forever alter the Peaks, Martin said.

“Once it's gone,” Martin said, “it's gone.”

The HMA encompasses around 110,000 acres, said Patricia Hatle, bureau range/wild horse specialist.

The proposed project area is north of U.S. 14-16-20 (Greybull Highway) between McCullough Peaks and Whistle Creek roads.

According to the news release, Bill Barrett Corporation, headquartered in Denver, has applied to the BLM for authorization to drill two exploratory gas wells and construct associated facilities in the Rocktober Unit. Five additional wells and facilities may also be proposed pending results of the first two wells.

The seven wells, which would be drilled on BLM surface, include access roads, gas pipelines, water wells, a compressor station and other facilities, according to the release.

Most of the proposed area is on bureau land, although there are two small parcels of state land.

Produced gas would be routed south to an existing Colorado Interstate Gas pipeline for transport to market. Maps and documents are available for review, and comment forms will be provided, said the release.

Known resource concerns listed in the bureau scoping statement are wild horses, sage grouse, cultural and paleontological resources, recreation and visual resources.

The meeting is an open-house format with bureau personnel in attendance.

The scoping notice and map can be found at http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/cyfodocs/Rocktober.html. If interested in participating in the process, submit written comments until close of business, Oct. 10, to Ann Perkins, Cody Field Office, P.O. Box 518, Cody, Wyo., 82414 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Perkins said the public is welcome to call or visit the office.