Idaho’s Payette River Wildlife Management Area could become the Pacific Northwest’s next natural gas field.
This month, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved allowing the state to auction off the mineral rights for 386 acres in the wildlife refuge. The Idaho Department of Lands auction likely will take place in late July, said Emily Anderson, a department spokeswoman.
Snake River Oil and Gas asked the state to offer the mineral rights for the wildlife area. The company, along with and AM Idaho, recently acquired most of the gas wells drilled in Payette County by Bridge Resources and Paramax Energy.
Suzanne Budge is with the Idaho Petroleum Council — a trade council that represents Snake River Oil and Gas. She says the company wants to lease the land so it can assess the area’s commercial prospects for natural gas production.
The Payette River Wildlife leases will carry a stipulation. Gas prospectors would not be allowed to disturb the surface of the wildlife management area. In other words, they can’t sink wells in the wildlife area. To reach any gas that may be under the wildlife area, a company would have to access it from adjoining land.
Mineral leases to be auctioned include lands under the river.
The 1,200-acre Payette River Wildlife Management Area is home to wildlife, including several bird species. They include hawks, sandhill cranes, and American kestrels.
Leases for the wildlife area would carry 10-year terms. The state would collect royalties for gas extracted from its land.
Clarification: May 22, 2012. This story originally contained a disputed description of a drilling method that may be used to access natural gas.
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