The Garfield County Commissioners were not amused on Monday when presented with a letter from Encana requesting that 10 county roads north of Parachute be removed from maps. Click here to read Encana letter and view map.
In the December 12 letter, Encana asserts that because County Roads 401 through 409 and 249 cross Encana “Surface” (land owned by Encana) that makes them the company’s private roads. So therefore the county should remove any reference to the roads on maps and brochures. They have already posted signs on the roads “indicating Encana ownership of the property.”
Yes, you read that right. It’s kinda like this. There’s an alley next to our property in Silt. We mow it. We weed whack it. We remove snow from it. So the alley should belong to us now and the town should just give it up. Right?
Garfield cool to Encana’s claim to roads [subscribers only]
… “I think I’m flabbergasted by this request,” Garfield Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.
He said he’s traveled some of the roads and some of them access public lands or Rio Blanco County roads.
“Just because a road goes across somebody’s private property doesn’t mean it’s not a county road,” he said.
Commissioner John Martin said he’s found that the roads have been shown on maps at least as far back as 1972 …
At the advice of County Manager Drew Gorgey, the Commissioners decided that Encana must petition the county for a public hearing to vacate the roads. In the mean time, Encana will be asked to remove the road signs indicating private property.
… The county is becoming increasingly active in road-access issues. A newly hired employee will be specifically in charge of researching road-ownership and access questions. The county has called on the Bureau of Land Management to close fewer travel routes than it is proposing in its Grand Junction Field Office draft management plan. Commissioners say they support keeping open roads that access public land, while respecting private rights …
… “We’re not trying to deny or change access on these roads; we’re merely trying to change how they’re labeled on the map to reflect the fact they’re on private property,” company spokesman Doug Hock said by email Monday.
He said that given the concerns expressed by county officials Monday, Encana is “certainly willing” to meet with county road officials to further explain its position and answer questions.
Encana’s North Parachute Ranch previously was owned by Unocal, which at one time sought to develop oil shale in the Parachute area.
Encana says it maintains the roads, and public access to some of them, and some of the ranch, is granted in accordance with terms of a wildlife mitigation plan agreed to between the company and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
In a letter to the county, it says “has posted signs on each road indicating Encana ownership of the property,” but asks that the county modify maps and brochures “to clarify and affirm Encana’s ownership of the roads and to ensure that the public knows that Encana owns” them.
Click here to watch the six minute portion (31:04 to 37:00) of the January 13 BOCC meeting pertaining to Encana’s request.
It’s interesting to see what actually gets the goat of these commissioners. They shrug off contaminated groundwater. They ignore air pollution. But DO NOT mess with their roads.