Monday, January 16, 2012

Drilling out a plan: Oil boom on the horizon worries many
Dec 17 2011

A corral gate frames a windmill at Soapstone Natural
Area in July 2009. / V. Richard Haro/ Coloradoan library
The specter of oil rigs drilling on the windswept plains of Soapstone Prairie Natural Area haunts Fort Collins officials.

It's a possibility as the push for energy development moves west from Weld County toward the 22,000-acre city-owned conservation area, which sits south of the Colorado/ Wyoming border.

Also at risk for future drilling are Red Mountain Open Space to the west, a nearly 15,000-acre property owned and managed by Larimer County, and the city-owned Meadow Springs Ranch to the east. The ranch covers 26,500 acres.

"My worst nightmare is we would have a wellhead on every 35 acres,"

said John Stokes, director of the Fort Collins Natural Resources Department. "That would be a complete and total disaster, from my perspective. We definitely don't want that."

If drilling for oil comes to the area, city and county officials say they want to be prepared for it with a plan for where it may and may not occur.

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