BLM to Auction Land Near Payette for Oil and Gas Leases

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Alta Mesa V.P. of Operations Dale Hayes (center)  gave Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (right) a tour of the company's Payette County pipeline in July 2014. - MATT FURBER
  • Matt Furber
  • Alta Mesa V.P. of Operations Dale Hayes (center) gave Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (right) a tour of the company's Payette County pipeline in July 2014.
As controversy continues over oil and gas exploration in Payette County, the Bureau of Land Management is putting five parcels of land six miles east of the city of Payette up for auction

The parcels, which range in size from 560 acres to more than 1,700 acres, carry two stipulations: no activity can take place either above or below the surface of the land. That is, until the Four Rivers Resource Management Plan—which brings together three separate western Idaho land use plans—is completed. According to Tate Fischer, field manager for the Four Rivers Field Office, the plan should be complete by 2016.

Oil and gas companies have been eager to begin drilling in the Payette County area for years, though operations have been slow to mature. After drilling several successful test wells in the county, Canada-based energy company Bridge Resources declared bankruptcy on more than $44 million in debt. That was in 2011. In 2012, Texas-based Alta Mesa snapped up Bridge's leases and has been waiting ever since to get its operations under way.

Meanwhile, opposition to oil and gas drilling in the county has only grown. In November 2014, local anti-fracking activist Alma Hasse found herself locked in the Payette County Jail after being taken in handcuffs from a meeting of the Payette County Planning and Zoning Commission. The body was considering matters related to oil and gas exploration, and when a P&Z commissioner challenged Hasse's testimony after public comment was closed, she fired back. When she refused to leave the meeting, she was jailed and held for seven days, refusing to give her name to police.

The upcoming lease auction is set for Thursday, May 28 at the BLM Idaho State Office in Boise. Bidding is open to the public, and prospective buyers will be required to register beforehand. Registration will start at 7:45 a.m., with the main oral auction occurring at 9 a.m. Following the national standard, minimum bids of $2 per acre will be accepted.

Written protests can be submitted by mail or fax to the BLM Idaho State Office: 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Boise, 208-373-3899. Address protests to Tracy Hadley by 4 p.m., Tuesday, March 31. For instructions on filling out a protest, see Page 5 of the Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale (below).

BLM Notice of Competitive OIl and Gas Lease Sale