According to Fred O'Ferrall, associate field manager for the Price BLM, notice that the corporation was to be off the site by the winter closure date of Nov. 1 was clearly stated in the environmental assessment and decision record issued prior to the beginning of operations. O'Ferrall
said that groups can petition for an exception to closure and should do so at least 10 to 14 days prior to the closure date.
The request from BBC
for exception was received on Oct. 28, two working days before the winter closure date, pointed out O'Ferrall
A number of reasons led to the BLM's decision to deny BBC's request for exception, O'Ferrall
cited the early onset of wet winter weather and wildlife concerns as key to the BLM's denial. O'Ferrall
said two separate incidences of slide-offs from the Nine Mile Road showed that winter weather posed a public safety threat.
"Their own operations have clarified that this is a safety issue," he
The location of the drilling is also considered to be a high value winter range for mule deer, stated O'Ferrall
.Without access to the winter range, the mule deer would be forced to move into the critical area early and consume forage that was meant to last them through the late winter months. O'Ferrall
said feedback from the Division of Wildlife Resources regarding the area wildlife was also taken into account when the exception was reviewed.O'Ferrall
said that BBC
was given a 10-day extension to conclude operations after denial of the exception.