Colo. Officials Weigh in on Auction of Oil, Gas Leases

A natural gas drilling site sits against the mountains near the small northwest Colorado community of Meeker in this photograph taken on Friday, Oct. 26, 2007. A new report predicts that northwest Colorado's population could double to about 417,000 over the next 30 years because of the energy boom and the number of gas wells could soar to more than 50,000. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Denver (AP) The Colorado Division of Wildlife is recommending that several proposed federal oil and gas leases be withdrawn or issued with conditions in an upcoming auction to protect greater sage grouse, lynx, native cutthroat trout and other wildlife.

The comments are among 97 protests or statements submitted on the May 8th auction of 175,430 acres. The parcels up for lease include roughly 19,000 acres classified as roadless under a 2001 ban on road-building in parts of national forests.

While spread over 14 counties, the bulk of the land is in the Rio Grande National Forest in southern Colorado. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which oversees mineral development on federal land, will decide whether to pull any of the parcels from the sale.

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