Feds Auction Off Parcels Once Targeted As Federal Wilderness

Denver (AP) Environmental groups are appealing the leasing of 23,000 acres in Western Colorado, land that was once considered for wilderness protection. The land is in the South Shale Ridge area near Debeque, one of the state's hottest spots for natural gas drilling. It's also the home of two plants that are being considered for endangered species protection.

The appeal will be reviewed by the Bureau of Land Management and that ruling can be appealed to the Interior Department before any leases are issued.

Colorado's federal lands play an important role in meeting the nation's energy needs, but Doug Koza, the B.L.M.'s Associate State Director, says agency works with companies to lessen the environmental impacts of drilling.

Copyright 2005 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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