Plan finds a unique balance between conservation, recreation, and energy development, and shows just how much Utahans love their national parks.
For many visitors, Moab’s dramatic, natural red rock epitomizes our Southwest deserts. Yet, this uniquely American landscape would have been permanently changed if oil and gas companies were allowed to begin drilling near the boundaries of Arches and nearby Canyonlands National Park.
In December 2016, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized a landmark energy plan developed from a collaborative process where stakeholders from the resource extraction, recreation and conservation communities worked together to recommend how oil and gas could be leased on lands important to multiple economies.
The resulting plan either closes or prohibits surface disturbance on land adjacent to Arches and Canyonlands, a clear statement that the Moab region wants to insulate its $262 million tourism economy from incompatible energy development on adjacent lands.
In December 2008, the outgoing Bush administration offered up 77 oil and gas leases on 130,000 acres of BLM lands, including several on pristine lands near Arches National Park. The immediate outcry from national park visitors, local recreationists and citizens from across the country prompted the Obama administration to announce a series of reforms to create a more balanced approach to how leases are issued in sensitive areas.
The most innovative of those reforms are Master Leasing Plans (MLPs), which seek to provide custom management agreements in areas of high interest to the conservation and recreation communities. The BLM is currently evaluating 17 MLPs in the West on lands adjacent to several national parks including Dinosaur National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Capitol Reef National Park.
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