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Our View: Harmless decision

It seems anytime drilling for natural resources comes up, the conversation invariably raises intense feelings.

Such is the case after the county leased its mineral rights last week to the land under Loudy-Simpson Park.

Some residents are angry the county agreed to lease its mineral rights under the park because they worry there will be drilling rigs scattered across Loudy-Simpson.



It’s hard for the Editorial Board to feel anything but pride when we see local residents take up a cause with the kind of fervor usually reserved for a football game, we only wish their good intentions were better placed.

The Moffat County Commission is not turning Loudy-Simpson Park over to oil and gas interests.



The park is in no real danger.

In fact, the commissioners brought up the very same concern as most residents before they voted on the lease agreement.

Like those who have chosen to speak up, the commissioners do not want Samson Resource Co. – or any company, for that matter – to put a natural gas well in the middle of Steve Ivers Field.

They approved the lease agreement in part because the Museum of Northwest Colorado, a county-owned entity, also owns a share

of the minerals under Loudy-Simpson.

This means that should Samson ever decide to drill, it would have to negotiate a lease agreement with the museum, too. If and when that happens, county officials will be able to add surface limitations.

County lease agreements also requires energy companies make a “good faith effort” to negotiate surface use agreements with whoever owns the land they intend to drill. In this case, Moffat County owns the entire 320-acre parcel.

While the county could not legally prevent Samson from drilling if the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, what company would wade into the public relations nightmare of fighting a community about its largest public park?

Few, if any, particularly considering the strong backbone of people here, and the fact the local government would join residents in their opposition.

As for that 320 acres, Loudy-Simpson covers about 60, which is less than one-fifth of the total land. If they wanted, county officials could expand that about 100 acres to include the riverfront.

That leaves more than two-thirds of the land in question, which is all county-leased wheat fields, for Samson to explore. With directional drilling technology, it’s doubtful the company couldn’t tap every area of the park without ever disturbing its surface.

So what are we left with?

In the minds of the Editorial Board, much ado about nothing.

Which is not to say that residents have been foolish in vocalizing their anxiety about the county’s recent decision.

If everyone were as willing to be honest about their opinion, the community as a whole would be far better off.

All too often, it seems those who disagree are content to whisper their dissent to others who already share their opinion. This helps nothing, and in many cases, has held the community back from progress.

There have been rumblings some plan to attend the Commission’s meeting Tuesday and speak directly to the officials about their concerns.

The Editorial Board hopes people do talk to the commissioners. They should have been the first people called.

Local officials still may be politicians, but they are not unavailable.

Maybe if someone had called the commissioners last week, this controversy would be finished by now.

Editorial board member Kenny Wohl did not take part in this discussion because of a conflict of interest.


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