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Community mapping workshop set for July 1 in Pagosa Springs

A workshop dealing with a community-based mapping process will be held July 1 in Pagosa Springs.

Colorado and New Mexico are facing oil and gas leasing decisions that may affect landscapes and communities for decades to come. Responsible energy development can bring positive economic benefits and provide American energy independence. Unplanned energy development, however, can inadvertently injure the region’s environment, economy and quality of life.

To help communities proactively and constructively engage in energy planning, a unique partnership of counties and non-governmental organizations is conducting a community-based mapping process to identify critical community resources such as municipal water supplies, high-value recreation, wildlife and agricultural production areas that may be impacted by energy development.

The goal is to create a basis for landscape-scale planning of energy development that incorporates important community values in need of protection in order to lead to better planning outcomes from a variety of perspectives. The effort is not advocating for or against energy development, but is assisting the community in thoughtful planning and impact mitigation.

The mapping process is a transparent and interactive community-driven planning and mapping exercise that identifies and ranks community values on the landscape. This GIS-based map of community values will be integrated with other data layers such as wildlife habitat and local government land use plans to create a basis for landscape-scale planning of energy development. Communities can then use this map to minimize potential energy development impacts to critical community resources such as municipal water supplies, high-value recreation, wildlife and agricultural production areas.

Stakeholders in the community, such as county commissioners, landowners, businesses, tribes, economic development representatives and others are being asked to participate in a weighting and ranking exercise at a half-day workshop in Archuleta County on July 1.

The results of the community mapping will be depicted visually into a GIS-based map that can be used to protect important community values and resources by informing landowner and county planning efforts, and providing a basis for energy development overlays and host community benefits agreements.

A partnership of Archuleta County, Colo., Rio Arriba County, N.M., Chama Peak Land Alliance, Future West, and Groundtruth Geographics is creating the community-based mapping process. Some of these same partners worked successfully in Montana and Idaho on a similar project called the MSTI Review Project.

To watch a five-minute motion story on the process, visit http://www.mstireviewproject.org/.

How is this related to oil and gas leasing and planning? Planning for energy development takes place at local, state and federal levels. This community values analysis and map can inform planning efforts at all three levels, enabling a more seamless and comprehensive approach to energy development across the landscape. Federal directives require consideration of local land use plans in federal energy development planning efforts because many of the impacts of energy development (e.g. road impacts, emergency services, housing) are incurred at the local level and become the responsibility of local government to address.

Participants will spend an hour on introductions and briefings on the project goals. Then, participants will be walked through the community mapping process.

In the last hour of the meeting, participants will fill out worksheets to weigh and rank community values. These worksheet responses will be compiled and a final map will be prepared by Aug. 23.

The workshop will take place 1–4 p.m. July 1 at Stevens Field Airport, second floor conference room. Take Piedra Road 1.3 miles and turn right on Cloman Boulevard. The airport will be 1.2 miles on the right.

R.S.V.P. by Friday, June 28, to monique@future-west.org.

This story was posted on June 27, 2013.