|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||December 17, 2012|
|Contact:||Erika Pollard, Southwest Region Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, firstname.lastname@example.org, Office: 801-521-0785, Cell: 801-834-3457
Shannon Andrea, Director of Media Relations, National Parks Conservation Association, email@example.com, 202-454-3371
National Parks and Wilderness Groups Protest BLM Leasing Plans Near Dinosaur National Monument
Groups argue that BLM’s decision ignores value and health of the park unit
CRAIG, CO — Today, in an action to protect the long term health and beauty of Dinosaur National Monument, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and The Wilderness Society (TWS) sent a letter of protest and separate comment letter to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) asking that it reconsider the upcoming lease sales it has planned for federally-owned parcels adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument. NPCA is asking BLM to reevaluate the oil and gas lease sales it has planned in northwestern Colorado for February and May of next year – both of which include significant acreage adjacent to the monument. Oil and gas development on these properties could ruin the visitor experience for the nearly 200,000 people who visit every year and harm the resources of this park unit.
Oil and gas exploration and development on these leases could cause air and water pollution, increased noise, loss of wildlife habitat, decrease in visitors, and numerous environmental impacts from creating new roads to handle the increased traffic associated with drilling for oil and gas near a national park known for its natural environment. “Some of the proposed lease parcels will have a broad array of significant negative impacts on the people’s monument and bring immense pressure to allow frequent heavy haul traffic over park roads where commercial use is not permitted and does not belong,” said retired Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Denny Huffman.
This is not the first time parcels near Dinosaur National Monument have been considered for lease sale followed by protests, appeals, and deferral. In 2007, Colorado BLM’s White River Field Office withdrew lease sale parcels adjacent to the monument due to protests. In 2009, following the protest of 77 oil and gas leases, a report by the BLM specifically recommended deferring a parcel adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument and that “the BLM and NPS reevaluate the merits of offering the parcel near the park for lease”. Despite consistent opposition over the last decade, the BLM continues to attempt to lease more parcels adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument. According to NPCA and TWS, this will continue unless a commitment is made to work with the National Park Service and the public on a sensible approach.
To ensure our treasured national park units are not put in danger by poor planning, NPCA and TWS are asking the BLM to evaluate impacts to the resources and values of Dinosaur National Monument from oil and gas development near their boundary. The groups are also requesting that BLM fully consider and incorporate National Park Service concerns into the leasing process to ensure that the landscape values they hold in common are protected. According to former superintendent Huffman, “the value of parks to the public is incredibly high and the BLM has the responsibility to consider the widely supported mission of the National Park Service when evaluating oil and gas lease sales adjacent to their boundaries”.
“Dinosaur National Monument was created to protect this beautiful place encompassing an incredible river corridor and ancient dinosaur fossils while providing the highest quality visitor experience for those traveling out to western Colorado and northeastern Utah to see it,” said NPCA Southwest Region Program Manager Erika Pollard. “When those visitors get there they should not be forced to share National Park Service roads with massive trucks or to see this special place degraded.”