The federal Bureau of Land Management has announced it will submit a management plan that will close the 77,000-acre Vermillion Basin in parts of Moffat and Routt counties to energy development. That’s according to the Craig Daily Press, which reports that under the plan, oil and gas leases will be barred for the next 20 years, adding to the previous 15 years of restriction already in place. Environmental groups and Governor Bill Ritter hail the proposal as one that will safeguard the spectacular region from possible environmental damage (via Grand Junction’s Daily Sentinel). “My administration supports the natural gas industry as a mission-critical driver of our New Energy Economy,” Ritter says. “But energy development must occur in a way that does not cause irreparable harm to our environment, other natural resources, wildlife, or to our citizens and communities.” The plan has been in the works for years. An earlier proposal entertained the possibility of allowing drilling with restrictions, notes the Denver Business Journal. The new plan will be open to a 30-day public-comment period when it is formally released next month.