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The Niobrara is a river that starts in Wyoming and crosses Nebraska before losing itself in the Missouri River, just north of the hamlet of Niobrara, population 370 (and still growing). The word comes from the Omaha language and means, approximately, “flowing water” (the Omaha word for “flat water” is “Nebraska”). Niobrara is also the name of an extensive geologic formation, the interesting parts of which underlie a big chunk of northeastern Colorado, and pieces of Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas. The hydrocarbon-bearing portions of the Niobrara formation are found in the Denver-Julesburg basin (a.k.a. “the DJ”), a gas-prone area in the northeast corner of Colorado and southwest Kansas, and the North Park basin, which has shown a lot of recent potential for crude oil. (Yes, there is a South Park basin—it has seen a lot of gold mining, but not much oil or gas.) There is also the Piceance basin to the west.

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