Objections to new natural gas drilling in the Thompson Divide region should not be taken to mean that existing facilities, such as the Wolf Creek storage field, are inappropriate in any way, Pitkin County assistant attorney Chris Seldin told White River National Forest officials Monday during a special hearing in Glenwood Springs on the draft oil and gas leasing plan for the forest.

Seldin said the Wolf Creek field, a 9,500-acre gas storage field south of Sunlight Mountain Resort operated by SourceGas as part of its natural gas distribution system, is “characteristically … different than having active drilling and well activity.”

“As for the substance of the decision, we strongly support it and are grateful that the Forest Service has taken into account the views of local governments,” Seldin said of White River Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams’ decision to close off 61,000 acres of “high potential” acreage for leasing within the Thompson Divide as part of the new 20-year leasing plan.

The decision, though, is painfully ironic, given the history of oil and gas activity in the region that is symbolized by the storage field, countered David Ludlam, executive director for the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, one of several industry representatives speaking at Monday’s hearing.

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