A visit to Cougar Canyon

Although I’ve driven by Trinidad on I-25 before, I’ve never really spent much time in the area. I suspect that is true of many travelers heading down to Santa Fe or coming up from New Mexico to the Denver area.

This past weekend, a friend and I went to Trinidad to play the new Cougar Canyon golf course there, designed by Jack Nicklaus.

From the course, you get some great views, including this look at Fisher’s Peak, which was a landmark for travelers along the Santa Fe Trail. The peak overlooks the entrance to Raton Pass between Trinidad and Raton, N. M.

Lately, I’ve been reading more history on both the Boulder area and Colorado, and the story of the Santa Fe Trail, of course, is an important part of how trade developed in the West, and involved economies of New York and even London.

The golf course, while challenging with shots across canyons onto tricky greens, is certainly worth visiting. Right now, the course is offering a “stay and play” package for $99 each day (does not include cart fee.)

We played two days, and that gave us some time to explore around both the city of Trinidad and surrounding areas a bit. There’s a good variety of museum, shops, etc. in the historic downtown area.

By JW Lewis of the Boulder Report

New Elk Mine to Open Soon

LAS ANIMAS COUNTY – Toronto-based Cline Mining Corporation has announced completion of its acquisition of New Elk Coal Company LLC near Trinidad, together with all of the New Elk Coal resources and coal mine properties and hard assets.

The purchase price for New Elk was $15.4 million, the assumption of existing $2.8 million and $967,000 mine reclamation bonds and a $1.00 per ton royalty on coal sales with Cline having a buy-out right for $15 million.

The total of the acquisition costs and the capital and refurbishment expenditures to bring the mine back into commercial coal production at a production rate of 3 million tons of coal annually are estimated by New Elk management at U.S.$100 million. Cline Mining Corporation says it is in the process of arranging its ongoing financing requirements.

The New Elk Coal properties contain 315,000,000 tons of National Instrument 43-101 (”NI 43-101?) compliant in-place metallurgical steel making and thermal grade coals, according to technical reports.

The New Elk Coal assets include a coal preparation plant with a designed production capacity of 550 tons per hour, product coal silos and rail load-out, buildings, railway right of way, surface real estate, mining equipment, conveyor systems, electrics, underground workings with mine portal access from the plant site, mine permit and coal waste dump.

The Company and New Elk Coal management are proceeding with bringing the mine back into commercial production without delay. On completion of the planned capital and refurbishment input the plant and mine will have the capacity to produce 3 million tons of metallurgical steel making coal annually.

The management plan is to restart production within six months at an annual rate of 500,000 tons of coal in the first stage, initially trucking to rail head, and increasing production to the present plant design capacity of 3 million tons a year by year three with the re-installation by New Elk Coal of the rail line to the major railroad carriers from the plant to provide unit train service.

Read the Story on Colorado Energy News >>>>

It’s easy to fall in love with Trinidad

Excerpt from an article on Colorado Biz Today

It’s easy to fall in love with Trinidad, especially if you love architecture. That’s because among other virtues, Trinidad boasts the “El Corazon de Trinidad” National Historic District, a collection of mostly magnificent Victorian buildings ranging from Temple Aaron (to the southeast) to the Trinidad Hotel (to the northwest). To be precise, the Heart of Trinidad comprises 104 commercial buildings and 140 Victorian-style houses, all standing above streets lined with picturesque brick that reads “Trinidad.”


Of course, there’s more to Trinidad than history. “My opinion of Trinidad is that it is still a little undiscovered jewel sitting down here,” says Danielle Rollo, broker associate with Southern Colorado Realty in Trinidad. “We have beautiful weather; we have lots of outdoor activities; the mountains are right close; we have lakes; and the architecture of all of Trinidad is special. People from out of state are discovering us  more than Coloradans are.”


Jim Davis, chairman of the Trinidad-Las Animas County Economic Development Board and a native Minnesotan, with his wife traveled back and forth between the borders of Colorado and New Mexico before settling in Trinidad.

“You’re always wondering if you made a good decision, but if you are attracted to the amenities in this area of the country, I really found it to be the best dollar value in real estate in the Southwest,” he says.

Read the rest of the Article

Public Hearing in La Plata County on Regulations















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259-3583 EXT 4

[email protected]

In Las Animas County we should also be asking the county to require these items to protect us:






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Before it is too late!

Just how much Water are we losing in Las Animas County from CBM?

I have always wondered just how much water is being removed as a “Waste By Product” of the Coal Bed Methane Gas Well drilling in Las Animas County and from a recent article from the Trinidad Times Independent it was mentioned in the article that they are extracting 16,000 acre feet of water yearly from the Raton Basin in Las Animas County. At least that is how I understood it. Check the article to see if this is how you understand it too.

Well 16,000 acre feet of water doesn’t sound like much does it? I wish they would put this in terms that we might understand better. So lets do some math shall we….

An acre-foot of water is a term used in measuring the volume of water. It is equal to the quantity of water required to cover one acre of land one foot deep, hence one acre foot of water. They say that it is 43,560 cubic feet of water. Still doesn’t really give us an idea of how much water this is in terms that most of us would understand. So lets go a bit further.

Answers.com says that one acre foot of water is equal to  approximately 325,851.42 U.S. gallons.

We need to take this one step further and multiply 325,851.42 gallons by 16,000 to find out just how much water is being taken from the ground in Las Animas County and that is a figure that you can understand. From my calculations it is 5213622720 gallons…..that is 5,213,622,720 gallons. Or in other words that is 5 trillion 213 million 622 thousand 720 gallons of water that is taken from the ground that is considered a Waste By Product by the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission.

I wonder if this will affect our ground water supply for our Water Wells? The Gas Industry that is making a fortune from the Methane Gas says that it doesn’t.

Las Animas County officials, as you will read in the article mentioned above, when before the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission concerned about the economic concerns if the Coal Bed Methane Industry is regulated in ways that would protect us more but nothing was said about how we will get ground water when its all disposed of as a waste by product. Sorry I just can’t wrap my head around our precious water being labeled a “waste by product”!

On the other hand Las Animas County has been requesting drought aid from the Federal Government. Go Figure! But its okay to remove 5 trillion gallons of water from Las Animas County.

It is a fact that when our ground water is gone Las Animas County has no plan that will replace it nor do they have an approved source of water to supply us water. The water that supplies Trinidad their water belongs to the City of Trinidad not to Las Animas County Residents.

Funny thing is that the Colorado Division of Water Resources turns their head to the removal of the ground water removed by the Gas Industry but if your water well goes dry from the CBM development then they regulate where you can get your water and it has to be from a water source that is a registered approved commercial well and Las Animas County do not have or own any water wells.

Seems that the Officials in Las Animas County are only seeing dollars signs and are not looking ahead to protect the residents of Las Animas County. So just who is looking out for us? Please tell me who.

Coalbed Methane – Is it worth the Price we have to Pay?

Want to learn more about the effects of Coalbed Methane and how it affects property owners and residents? Check out these links

An Inside Look at Coal Bed Methane An average well pumps over 17,000 gallons of water a day, or 6.2 million gallons a year, from coal bed aquifers

Coalbed Methane and its Effects

A study conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents a number of examples of water quality impacts and other issues encountered after CBM extraction occurred.173 These include reported incidents of:

  • Explosive levels of hydrogen sulfide and methane under buildings and inside homes
  • Death of vegetation (possibly due to seepage of methane and decreased air in root zones)
  • Increased concentrations of methane and hydrogen sulfide in domestic water wells
  • Cloudy well water with increased sediment concentrations following hydraulic fracturing
  • Strong odors and black coal fines in water wells
  • Brown, slimy well water that smelled like petroleum
  • Decrease in well water levels and surface water flows following hydraulic fracturing
  • The discharge of produced water creating new ponds and swamps that were not naturally occurring in particular regions

Hydraulic Fracturing of Coalbed Methane Wells: A Threat to Drinking Water

A pdf document explaining the threat to our drinking water.

Coalbed Methane Industry: Produced Water and Toxic Issues

This presentation uses a coalbed methane pilot project in southeastern British Columbia (Canada) to highlight some of the issues related to toxicity of CBM produced water.  The case study also discusses regulatory negligence with respect to the project, and how the province of BC allowed and continues to allow the project to proceed without CBM regulations in place.

Other Coalbed Methane Links

Has a lot of links to Coalbed Methane information

The New Gold Rush – Coalbed Methane in Montana

Although there are many potential problems with methane development, most revolve around water: both quantity and quality. The average well pumps more than 17,000 gallons of water per day to release the methane. That multiplies out to 6.2 million gallons of water per year for one well. Multiply that number by the 14,000 to 39,000 wells projected for Montana and the volume of water is incomprehensible.

Las Animas County Colorado – Residents Have No Water!

When the Coalbed Methane wells extract all the ground water the Residents of Las Animas County west of I-25 will have no place to get water since Las Animas County, the County itself, has no source of water for the residents and they can’t count on a source of water from the City of Trinidad.

Get Educated!

Know what is happening!

Stand Up for what is Right!

Protect your Rights!

Is Coalbed Methane an Issue Here?

Many people that I have spoken with say they don’t know much about it, so I’ll start with a short description from Wikipedia.

“Coalbed methane is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an important source of energy in the United States, Canada, and other countries. Australia has rich deposits where it is known as coal seam methane. Also called coalbed gas, the term refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is called ’sweet gas’ because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide. The presence of this gas is well known from its occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk.”

That sounds simple enough, but what happens when you try to get it to the surface? It would appear that CBM extraction is not as nasty as some other ways of using energy from coal beds. However, there are still some environmental considerations. There always are.

From Wikipedia again: “CBM wells are connected by a network of roads, pipelines, and compressor stations. These structures can compromise the scenic quality of the landscape, fragment wildlife habitat, and displace local wildlife populations. Over time, wells may be spaced more closely in order to extract the remaining methane. Additionally, the produced water may contain undesirable concentrations of dissolved substances. Water withdrawal may depress aquifers over a large area and affect groundwater flows.”

Ah yes, water. It seems that there is always something about water. CBM extraction is basicly accomplished by pumping water out of the coal seam, so it is clear that there is a potential for disturbing water supplies, at least indirectly. But what happens with the waste water?

This contaminated water is called “produced water” by the industry. Disposal of this wastewater can have disastrous consequences for agricultural land, drinking water supply, and fish and wildlife. The problems vary from area to area and with the engineering solutions chosen, but it is certainly something which is worth keeping an eye on.

This article goes on to discuss topics like Underground Coal Seam fires that can start after the dewatered coalbeds are exposed to Oxygen. Click the link below to read more.

Read More>>>>

Community Supported Agriculture

Earth Mountain Education Farm
CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) Friends of the Farm Meeting
Sat. July 12th 12:00pm
Earth Mountain Education Farm

This meeting is for anyone who is interested in being a potential CSA member.
What is that? When you become a member of the farm you are provided a weekly mixed bag of fresh organic produce straight from the farm at prices that compare to Safeway’s non-organic price for produce.

Why become a member?
Buy local and don’t contribute to the inefficient system of transporting our food from far away.

Support your local farmer and sustainable farming practices rather than the global industrial food system and monocropping.
Become a part of your own food production and get involved in the farm, feel a connection to the land where your food is grown and the farmers growing it.
Provide input on what you would like to see grown.
Community Supported Agriculture is a movement in local food security. Together we can support each other in good ways. Come to the farm and see Earth Mountain’s 1st year CSA farm. We need your input and feedback.

See you soon!

Joni and Carter
***Call for Directions 719-680-0215

Website: www.earthmountainfarm.org

Email: [email protected]

There will be another meeting during the week for folks who cannot make it this Sat.

Benzene found in spring from Gas Well Drilling?

You can read this article online here

In some bad news for the oil and gas industry — benzene has been found in spring water used by a cabin near Parachute — according to a report in today’s Examiner. From the article, “The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued a Notice of Alleged Violation to four energy companies after tests found benzene water at the cabin outside Parachute in western Colorado.”

Benzene, according to Wikipedia:

“…is an organic chemical compound and a known carcinogen…Benzene is a colorless and highly flammable liquid with a sweet smell and a relatively high melting point. Because of this, its use as an additive in gasoline is now limited, but it is an important industrial solvent and precursor in the production of drugs, plastics, synthetic rubber, and dyes. Benzene is a natural constituent of crude oil, but it is usually synthesized from other compounds present in petroleum.”

To their credit two of the operators cited by the COGCC in the area are investigating the contamination. A third company had no comment. I’m assuming that their attorneys are afraid of a finding by the OGCC that they are the point source for the groundwater pollution. The fourth company cited does not have a listed number.

Oil and gas industry supporters are in the midst of squaring off with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission over proposed new rules for exploration and production on state land. The battle so far is over proposed rules for mitigating the effects on wildlife, but simmering underneath the controversy is whether or not current rules and practices are sufficient to protect Colorado resources such as groundwater. The industry is largely united around opposition to the new rules. Many in Las Animas county have come out against them. However, the credibility of the adequacy of existing protections is called into question with this benzene news.

Groundwater contamination is not easy to predict or mitigate. Sub-surface geology is difficult to map with accuracy and is still largely guesswork. Add the porous qualities of some rock along with the fracturing of formations due to geologic and human events and you have this dependency on the skills and good will of oil and gas developers. The engineering is pretty good nowadays but unscrupulous or unlucky operators can cause harm to the groundwater resource. It’s often impossible to determine the extent of groundwater pollution after it happens let alone fully prevent it. Cleanups are horribly expensive and the responsibility often falls on government.

Colorado is rich in natural gas deposits and drilling is booming over in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. County infrastructure is being stressed by all the traffic and demands place on it by the population boom accompanying the drilling boom. Last year’s reorganization of the COGCC was touted as replacing an industry-centered board with a board that would consider environmental issues, along with producer profit, in governing the operations. Ed Quillen, summed up the opinion of many around the state in a recent Denver Post column, writing:

The water of Colorado belongs to the people of Colorado. And thanks to gas drillers, various people of Colorado have found methane and benzene in their water. Let’s face it. The drillers are here for one purpose: To make as much money as they can, as fast as they can, just like the earlier gold and silver mine owners. If it’s asking too much for them, in the process of sending Colorado natural gas to California, to follow some rules to protect our property – our wildlife and our water – then goodbye and good riddance, the sooner the better.

Get involved if you have the time. There is a lot going on across the state in anticipation of the COGCC rules setting meeting in August.

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