Last week, the Price office of the United States Bureau of Land Management released the draft environmental assessment on Bill Barrett Corporation's proposed west Tavaputs Plateau drilling program in Carbon and Duchesne counties.
The federal agency will accept public comments on the proposed project until June 4.
Bill Barrett Corporation's proposal includes drilling 12 vertical wells on federal parcels and 10 vertical wells on Utah State School Institutional Trust Lands Administration property.
None of the company's proposed wells would be in Nine Mile Canyon, indicated the Price BLM office.
If conventional wells prove successful, an additional 16 may be drilled from existing pad sites using a directions method.
To reduce potential visual and audible impacts to visitors in the Nine Mile area, one alternative considers eliminating a compressor station at Water Canyon and moving facilities to an existing site at Dry Canyon.
"In our environmental review, we took a hard look at the potential impacts to cultural, wildlife, riparian, and visual resources from the project," said associate field manager Fred O'Ferrall. "Our analysis examined a range of alternatives so impacts could be minimized where possible."
The Bill Barrett Corporation proposal also includes replacing an existing pipeline in Nine Mile Canyon, explained the Price BLM office.
Visual simulations were conducted to ensure a pipeline would blend into the area as seamlessly as possible.
To ensure cultural resource protection, a 300-foot corridor was inventoried for cultural and historical resources, including standing structures and rock art, noted the Price BLM office.
In all cases, the pipeline avoids the resources.
To protect undiscovered buried cultural resources, a geomorphology study was conducted to identify the age of material at the pipeline site, continued the federal agency.
Where possible, the pipeline in Bill Barrett Corporation's proposed drilling program was routed through material younger than the cultural resources occurring in the canyons.
The federal agency will require Bill Barrett Corporation to take meticulous measures to protect cultural resources, including a requirement to provide a permitted archeologist who will monitor all pipeline construction activities in the Nine Mile Canyon area, pointed out the Price BLM office.
Consultations with the state historic preservation office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Native American tribes and additional agencies have been initiated, continued the Price BLM office. The consultations will be completed prior to the agency's issuance of a signed decision.
After the June 4 deadline date, the BLM will consider the public comments and make a final decision on the proposal.
Carbon County residents may submit comments to the BLM Field Office, 125 S. 600 West, Price, UT 84501. The environmental assessment will be available to citizens contacting the Price office at 636-3616 or visiting the project website at www.ut.blm.gov/westtavaputs.