BLM recommends including minerals near Theodore Roosevelt National Park in lease sale
BISMARCK—A parcel of land adjacent to Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one step closer to being included in a federal oil and gas lease sale next year.
The Bureau of Land Management recommends including a 120-acre parcel in McKenzie County bordering the North Unit of the park in a lease sale scheduled for March 2018.
The federal agency has published an environmental assessment of leasing the federal minerals and is accepting public comments through Oct. 30.
During an earlier "scoping period," conservationists raised concerns about the impact of more oil development outside the park's boundaries diminishing visitors' experience.
The BLM said in a news release its recommendation of including the parcel in the lease sale is consistent with the "administration's goals of promoting America's energy independence" and also follows approved resources management plans.
In the environmental assessment, the BLM said including the parcel in the lease sale doesn't necessarily mean the minerals would be developed. The BLM would do additional analysis if the agency received an application for permit to drill.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park Superintendent Wendy Ross said in a letter to the BLM she is concerned about oil development in that parcel affecting the park's scenic beauty, natural sound, wildlife habitat and dark night skies.
The parcel proposed for inclusion in the lease sale is just north of the Theodore Roosevelt Wilderness and the Buckhorn Trail.
The environmental assessment says impacts to the park could be minimized through best management practices, such as limiting lighting and avoiding unnecessary flaring of natural gas.
The assessment and more information are available at http://bit.ly/2w43idW
Comments can also be mailed to North Dakota Field Office, Attention: Oil and Gas EA Lead, 99 23rd Avenue West, Suite A, Dickinson, N.D., 58601.
The lease sale is tentatively scheduled to be held online at EnergyNet.com, starting on March 12, 2018, and ending on March 13, 2018. The BLM said a decision about whether the parcel will be included in the sale will be published a few days before the sale.