A coalition of conservation groups has just filed a formal protest opposing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision to auction off 100,000 acres of public lands for oil and gas leasing and development. Leases will be auctioned for wild and remote public lands in Utah, including White River, the greater Desolation Canyon region, Labyrinth Canyon, and the benches east of Canyonlands N.P.
The coalition includes Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), The Wilderness Society (TWS), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Grand Canyon Trust (GCT), and the Sierra Club. Together they represent over a million Americans who support conservation efforts.
Some of the land includes protected areas that the National Park Service asked BLM to omit from the sale. Kind of makes you wonder what’s most important to us – oil, or wild and scenic places? I’ve been through Labyrinth Canyon, and it’s such an amazing place that I shudder to think what it would look like after being opened up to development.
December 12th has been set by the BLM as its timeline for announcing what other parcels it intends to defer from leasing at the December 19th sale. This may or may not be the agency’s final decision on the lease sale protests.
In addition to the land lease auction, the BLM has issued six controversial management plans for public lands across eastern and southern Utah, opening up large portions of red rock country to oil and gas drilling and off-road vehicles. The coalition also intends to legally challenge these management plans.
- Take a look at these amazing photos of the lands affected by the December lease sale: Public Lands Lease Sale
- View: collection of maps of the area at Flickr.
- Read: Protests submitted in response to the BLM’s December 2008 Lease Sale
- Read: Resource management plans determining the fate of 11 million acres of Public Land in Utah: Moab, Price, Vernal, Kanab, Richfield, Monticello