Comment regarding wildlife BMPS for HB 1298

Comment regarding wildlife BMPS for HB 1298

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Comment regarding wildlife BMPS for HB 1298 Feb 24, 2008 Western Colorado Congress, Colorado Trout Unlimited and West Slope Water Network appreciate the opportunity to participate in this process. The six weeks allocated for this process are gone and another two weeks were scheduled. The seventh meeting was held on Tuesday of last week. The DOW presented a revised version of the SOPs at this last meeting. The following comments are offered regarding the SOP draft dated 2/19/08. Specific Comments. The DOW SOP for reclamation is different than in a previous version of the manuscript. These changes are an improvement over the original proposal. The specific percentages of disturbed land that must have plant cover provide industry with a goal that can be measured. The idea of posting a bond equal to costs of performing appropriate revegetation is also an excellent concept. However the Page 8, part C. statement 2 of the 2/5/08 draft SOP indicated that the industry should “manage and conserve topsoil horizons, microbe health and viability using live top-soiling techniques and top-subsoil segregation. WCC, CTU and WSWN recommend this section be put back into the portion of the 2/19/08 draft SOP in the lines above “Timing Limitation Areas.” Soil conservation is an important part of reclamation and needs to be acknowledged by all companies agreeing the SOP in lieu of BMP negotiations. The 2/19/08 proposal has a single statement designed to ...

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Comment regarding wildlife BMPS for HB 1298 Feb 24, 2008

Western Colorado Congress, Colorado Trout Unlimited and West Slope Water Network
appreciate the opportunity to participate in this process. The six weeks allocated for this
process are gone and another two weeks were scheduled. The seventh meeting was held
on Tuesday of last week. The DOW presented a revised version of the SOPs at this last
meeting. The following comments are offered regarding the SOP draft dated 2/19/08.

Specific Comments.

The DOW SOP for reclamation is different than in a previous version of the manuscript.
These changes are an improvement over the original proposal. The specific percentages
of disturbed land that must have plant cover provide industry with a goal that can be
measured. The idea of posting a bond equal to costs of performing appropriate
revegetation is also an excellent concept.

However the Page 8, part C. statement 2 of the 2/5/08 draft SOP indicated that the
industry should “manage and conserve topsoil horizons, microbe health and viability
using live top-soiling techniques and top-subsoil segregation. WCC, CTU and WSWN
recommend this section be put back into the portion of the 2/19/08 draft SOP in the lines
above “Timing Limitation Areas.” Soil conservation is an important part of reclamation
and needs to be acknowledged by all companies agreeing the SOP in lieu of BMP
negotiations.

The 2/19/08 proposal has a single statement designed to protect aquatic species, the last
sentence in the document. This statement is in a section pertaining to Restricted Surface
Occupancy (RSO) areas. The DOW recommendation is the ROS areas should be avoided
as a presumptive standard for oil and gas development in Colorado. The last statement in
RSO portion of the 2/19/08 SOP that reads as follows:
“Areas within 300 feet of the ordinary high water mark of any natural perennial,
intermittent or ephemeral stream of river, lake bed, ephemeral pool, playa lake or
wetland” be avoided.
All these areas would be considered an RSO. Roadways and gas lines will obviously
have to cross both streams and rivers. Bridges and culverts will have to be constructed.
This portion of the SOP should be modified to include some of the language removed by
the DOW. We recommend that seven bullet statements included on page 3 of the 2/5/08
draft be put back into the SOP. These statements could be introduced as follows:

Each road shall be designed, constructed or reconstructed and maintained to have
adequate drainage control using structures such as but not limited to, culverts bridges
ditches, cross drains and ditch relief drains:
a. The drainage control system shall be designed to pass the peak runoff safely
from a 50-year, 24-hour precipitation event;
b. No part of any road shall be located in the channel of an intermittent or
perennial stream c. Control or prevent erosion, siltation and air pollution consequent to erosion by
vegetating or otherwise stabilizing all exposed surfaces in accordance with
current, prudent engineering practice:
d. Control or prevent additional contributions of suspended solids to stream flow
or runoff outside the construction area;
e. Structures for perennial or intermittent stream channel crossings shall be made
using bridges, culverts, or other structures designed, constructed and
maintained sing current prudent engineering practices;
f. Comply with state or federal water quality standards applicable to receiving
waters.
g. Construct stream crossings in “the dry” to minimize sedimentation.

These comments are needed to protect aquatic resources and riparian vegetation when gas
companies have to cross-streams or rivers.

General comment

Many portions of the draft SOP (2/5/08) were completely eliminated in the 2/19/08
version. The DOW attempted to respond to industry comments that those parts of the
SOP were not needed when an issue was addressed by rules and regulations adopted by
other regulatory entities. Eliminating an operating procedure because another regulating
authority has regulatory does not seem prudent. The SOP document is designed to
provide gas companies with a de facto set of operating guidelines. These guidelines need
to be adequate to protect the wildlife of Colorado. As such the SOP can contain
reference to all needed actions to protect wildlife. No fines are associated with violation
of SOPs. The SOPs are offered as a way for gas companies to avoid consultation. If the
gas company can agree to operate within the SOP then consultation is not needed.

One of the largest issues relating to wildlife and the gas industry is that of reclamation of
disturbed lands. Reclaiming disturbed lands is not a new field of endeavor A set of
reclamation regulations applies to the coal industry. These regulations have been in place
for more than 30 years. The regulations seem to work. One issue is that brush and
shrubs have not reestablished in many areas that had been strip-mined. Grass and other
plants have reclaimed many of the areas used for strip-mining.

The Oil and Gas Commission could adopt the rules applied to coal mines as enforceable
regulations applied by the OGC to the oil and gas industry. These rules would apply to
all gas companies. Gas companies would not be able to claim that their industry was
being unfairly regulated. The gas industry would be brought to the same level of
responsibility as the coal industry. A cursory review of existing reclamation regulations
currently applied to the gas industry demonstrates the gas companies only have to make
token reclamation efforts.

The same idea may be applicable in other areas. The Colorado Water Quality Control
has applied existing storm water regulations to the gas industry. The Oil and Gas
Commission could adopt these regulations in their own set of regulations. The regulations would not have to be adopted word for word but simply refer to the WQCC
regulations. That way if the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission modifies the
storm water regulations the OGC would not have to likewise adopt changes. Instead of
creating a new set of procedures the DOW could utilize procedures that are working well
for other regulatory groups. Again the gas industry would know what is expected.

Thank you for the chance to participate in this process.



John Woodling, PhD.
Erosion control and surface runoff control strategies exist and do not have to be
reinvented. The DOW could decide which of these regulations provides that best
protection of wildlife resources. Modifications and additions of existing regulations may
be needed in specific areas or for specific wildlife resources. The DOW could
incorporate those exceptions and additions into the SOP or BMPs.

Using existing regulations from other entities creates some difficulties. Regulations of
other entities may be altered. These changes may require modification of the SOP and
some BMPs by the DOW. However, the SOP and BMP documents are going to require
continual attention and modification anyway.

3. The following pertains to the DOW BMP draft proposal and is limited to potential
BMPs applied to “Aquatic Species/Amphibians (page 27 of DOW document).

The BMP document does not mention many details included in the SOP document. I
assume that all appropriate portions of the SOP document would apply when a gas
company is working near a water body such as the 300-foot set back as described on page
5 of the SOP.

cdThe 2 bullet statement addresses water quality samples. This statement could be a place
where the BMP indicates that the industry must meet applicable stream standards and use
designations. The term “to determine acceptable changes” needs to be removed. Some
stream classifications do not allow change from background conditions. The DOW does
not have the ability in this case to approve “acceptable changes.” This BMP could be
modified to provide some direction to the industry. Water quality monitoring needs to be
performed at a level demonstrating the water does or does not meek stream standards.

rdThe 3 bullet calls for two-pass removal of fish for population estimates. A third pass
should be required when first pass efficiency is less than 70%.

thThe 6 bullet statement states trucks should be restricted “from crossing streams and
utilize appropriate and effective culverts, which don’t preclude upstream movement of
fish.” This item seems to require more specificity. Certainly all vehicles should be
included in the ban. In addition, I believe that the concept is to keep vehicles from
crossing streambeds without the use of culverts and bridges. More detail is needed in
description of adequate culverts. The use of 8-inch pipe is obviously not appropriate but
has been used in the past. Minimum standards need to be included for culvert design.

thThe 13 statement states that a gas company has to replace non-native riparian vegetation
with native planting. Is this requirement limited to areas disturbed by the gas company?

thThe 15 statement described how to disinfect equipment to avoid introduction of aquatic
disease or pests. Wording is needed that would prohibit disposal of disinfectants into
waters of the state. These solutions are extremely toxic and would kill fish. We would
suggest that many other BMPs need to be written to the same level as this proposal.
Breeding season information for the mountain sucker could be added to the last
statement. This species may spawn from May through the end of July.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate.


John Woodling, PhD.