Letter sent to Garfield County Commissioners regarding their consideration to allow man-camps on private property without landowner permission.
Letter to commissioners with photo of man camp
March 10, 2008
Re: Garfield County Commissioner meeting to discuss adoption of proposal to regulate man-camps on private property. “Public Comments for “text amendment” “Item C” agenda
Garfield County Commissioners: John Martin, Larry McCown and Tresi Houpt,
Thank you for considering my comments with regard to the county’s pending decision to regulate man camps on private property.
I appreciate the county’s initiative to provide a degree of land-use oversight in this process which does not fall within the purview of Colorado Oil and Gas Conversation Commission. This proposal, limiting the man-camp population to 8 personnel and involving 22 permitting conditions, certainly should provide a level of oversight which is necessary to the preservation of environmental integrity as well as health and safety. I agree that it is probably better that critical, knowledgeable and accountable personnel are stationed nearer to industrial operations given to catastrophic failure, than farther from them in the event of an emergency.
In order, however, to also preserve the sacred trust of private property rights, the role of the landowner should not be minimized – though it would doubtless seem convenient to do so.
Whether a man camp occurs as an implied matter of lease negotiations, or whether industry “bonds-on” without a surface use agreement, the county should consider the following possible implications to the landowner. Because of the county’s initiative to regulate this activity, the county, landowner and industry share a significant investment of interest in this matter, as well as potential liability which could involve claims upon a homeowner’s insurance. For this reason alone, if for no other, the landowner should receive a level of permissive authority – or, in the least, the benefit of joint industry/county consultation and therefore, informative review. As a matter of permit enforcement, this is particularly important since the county is depending upon landowners to provide an initial degree of oversight through the reporting of suspected violation. A landowner must be educated as to county expectation before they can attempt to comply, themselves, with this vital, regulatory presumption. Incidentally, given the proposed reporting protocol as well as opportunity for industry abuse and potential volatility of a situation involving the unauthorized occupation of private property, I feel strongly that 30 days to correct a notice of alleged violation is too long. In a well-managed man camp, 48 hours is a reasonable and sufficient timeframe. In thirty days, the operation could be completed and the camp moved to the next site.
In addition, as a landowner and mineral interest owner currently in the process of negotiating a lease, please consider that I have a great deal of interest in the following potential abuses which may arise from a man camp situation.
Industry continues to request and is increasingly granted increasingly denser spacing. This puts a great deal of pressure upon land-use and private property. The proliferation of pad sites (each with a man camp) can create significant disturbance and pose significant threat to the health and safety of a landowner and their family who must depend upon industry hiring practices and employment record keeping to provide any level of personnel accountability. Certainly, undocumented workers, persons with criminal records, drug users, and the like pose a high degree of concern, yet, this type of housing does not require any type of registration with state or local authorities. Though officially counter to proposed regulation, the risks of weapons and alcohol possession are relevant landowner concerns. Trespass is also a common scourge to landowners living with this industry. In order to help curtail the specter of wandering workers on private land where family members and protective pets may be present, personnel should be confined to fenced pad sites and in vehicles when on access roads. Additionally, I would urge the county to more closely examine industry’s purported need for 8 persons on site at any given time. Clearly, industry must resist any inclination to rely upon this permitting process as a solution to affordable and available housing. It is incumbent upon the county commissioners to foresee any areas where proposed policy may provide such incentives.
I have enclosed a photo of a current man camp located a few hundred yards from my residence on a property near my own. On this site, there are three dwellings, several pick-ups and two dumpsters. [Date of photo: March 07, 2008]
Once again, thank you for this concerted effort to bring a currently unregulated industry practice in line with county land-use codes. However, please also consider the need for landowner consultation and permissive authority in this situation.
All contents of this site, unless
otherwise noted are copyrighted by Lisa Bracken, 2007-2008. All rights are