||Jonah Field Projects
In March, 2006, the BLM issued the Jonah Infill Drilling Project Record of Decision (ROD) following extensive analysis in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). This decision allowed operators to infill drill and develop new gas wells and ancillary facilities which could potentially result in ≈14,000 acres of surface disturbance at any one time, but could not exceed ≈20,000 cumulative acres over the life of the project. The FEIS analysis indicated on-site mitigation of impacts was inadequate for that level of development. Considering these findings, EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) and BP America Production Company committed $24.5M in compensatory (off-site) mitigation. EnCana designated $16.5M of the fund be used to mitigate wildlife impacts, while the remaining $8M could be used to mitigate other resource impacts, perform monitoring, or accomplish other activities.
To manage this approach, the ROD created the Jonah Interagency Mitigation and Reclamation Office (JIO). This office, with representatives from Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ), Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA), Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), and the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is tasked with implementation and management of both on-site monitoring and the off-site mitigation program.
Critical to meeting these responsibilities, the JIO adopted a program that accepts off-site mitigation projects from Federal or State agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses, or individuals. In addition, specific strategic goals were developed to ensure potential project proponents are aware of the JIO’s needs in terms of mitigation projects.