The final plan unveiled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management yesterday does open up thousands of acres to drilling on top of the Roan, which contains up to a third of all the natural gas reserves in the state. But it allows only one percent of the plateau to be drilled at a time, with extensive restoration required before the next wellpad sprouts. That will drag out the process over decades, energy groups grumble — and give the plateau's rich wildlife and rare plant species a chance to recover from the trauma.
You can read the BLM's plan here.
For more about what's at stake, check out "Raiding the Roan" (originally published January 1, 2004), a detailed look at one of the state's last wild places. —Alan Prendergast