By TIMOTHY EGAN Published: June 22, 2005, New York Times RIFLE, Colo., June 15 - As a sometime carpenter, Keith Goddard has all the work he can handle in this place where new houses rise with the sun and a gas well is poked into the ground just about every other day. But Mr. Goddard is worried sick. From his backyard here on Colorado's West Slope, he can see the little bit of unspoiled paradise left in this valley, the high, green top of the Roan Plateau. That piece of public land is where he goes to make his living in the fall, as a hunting guide. Energy companies want to drill on it. "It's crazy what's going on," said Mr. Goddard, who has a face deeply reddened by the mountain sun. Mr. Goddard, who says he is a political independent, has organized hunters to protest government plans for introducing gas wells into grazing areas for deer and elk. "I'm not against oil and gas development," he said, "but when you put wells in every 20 acres, that means you're no longer managing public lands for the public anymore." Amid the clank, clatter and fire of the largest natural gas boom ever on public land in the West, a new kind of sagebrush rebellion is stirring. Ranchers, cowboys, small property owners and local government leaders - the core of the Republican base in the Rocky Mountain West - are chafing at the pace and scope of the Bush administration's push for energy development. Some people are filing lawsuits, challenging federal authority to drill in certain areas. Others are protesting new gas and oil leases. Federal officials say they have received thousands of letters opposed to drilling in areas like the Roan Plateau. One state, Wyoming, has passed legislation giving landowners more say in how mineral rights beneath their property are tapped. The battle cry is the same as in past movements: a call for local control over a distant federal landlord. But for the first time, it is the Republicans who find themselves the target of angry speeches about lost property rights and tone-deaf federal land managers. And people who have been on opposing sides of the major land battles in the West - mainly property owners and ranchers versus environmentalists - are now allies. "The word from Washington is drill, drill, drill, and now they've basically destroyed our ranch," said Tweeti Blancett, a coordinator for George Bush's presidential campaign in San Juan County, N.M. "We've been in a firestorm down here. A lot of Republicans are upset." The 32,000 acres of public land that Ms. Blancett and her husband, Linn, have long used for grazing cattle is now riddled with gas wells and pipelines. Petroleum byproducts have poisoned the water, she said, killing animals and causing the fertility rate to plummet. The couple has hired Karen Budd-Falen, one of the best-known lawyers in fights over federal land policies. They have sued to try to force the federal Bureau of Land Management to clean up the land. Ms. Budd-Falen got her start working against environmental restrictions with the Mountain States Legal Foundation, an intellectual incubator for such property rights stalwarts as James Watt, the former interior secretary under President Ronald Reagan. A prominent Republican from Cheyenne, Wyo., Ms. Budd-Falen said the drilling boom had turned the political world upside down in the West, home to the sagebrush rebellion of the 1970's and other later battles against federal government restrictions on development of public land. Now property owners, ranchers and home builders are worried about overdevelopment. "I'm amazed at the number of calls we're getting from landowners who are really frustrated with what's going on," Ms. Budd-Falen said. The fight has drawn in what is called the world's biggest Boy Scout ranch, the Philmont in northeast New Mexico; ranchers from Montana's Front Range and Wyoming's high desert; and retirees who have bought into the West's real estate boom only to find gas derricks blocking their mountain views. For the Bush administration, the dispute poses a conundrum. The president has made oil and gas drilling a priority on federal lands. Last year, the Bureau of Land Management issued 6,052 permits to drill oil and gas wells, triple the number from 10 years ago. Nearly 40 million acres of public land outside Alaska now have oil and gas leases on them.