Press Release May 19, 2016

Utah’s National Parks to Benefit from Innovative Oil and Gas Planning Effort

National Parks Group Commends ‘Smart-from-the-Start’ planning for oil and gas in the San Rafael Desert.

Salt Lake City, UT —National Parks Conservation Association commends the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for renewing its commitment to park-protective landscape-level planning with its initiation of the San Rafael Desert Master Leasing Plan. The Plan will consider how oil and gas is leased on approximately 525,000 acres of public land in the Utah’s San Rafael Desert, close to Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. BLM oversees land-use decision-making on millions of acres of federal land in the West.

Master Leasing Plans, or MLPs, are part of the Obama Administration’s innovative transition into landscape-level planning. Recognizing that oil and gas development causes harmful impacts to adjacent protected federal lands, the BLM developed MLPs in 2010 in an attempt to avoid harm from oil and gas leasing in sensitive areas, like national parks.

The MLP process works by inviting all potentially affected stakeholders — the oil and gas industry, recreation groups, local businesses, conservationists — to come together before leasing occurs to identify areas of conflict and ways to reduce impacts. An MLP being developedat Moab, UT, covering the area between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, is near completion and set to provide strong protections for that region’s vital tourism and recreation economies.

Statement from Erika Pollard, Senior Program Manager for NPCA’s Southwest Regional Office:

“We commend the BLM for seeking input from all affected parties on the San Rafael Desert MLP, bordering the Horseshoe Canyon Unit of Canyonlands National Park, and near the boundaries of Capitol Reef National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Without proper consideration, oil and gas development within the planning area could harm the air quality, dark night skies and the experience of visiting these beloved national parks. It is BLM’s continued commitment to smart-from-the-start planning in Utah that will help ensure our national parks continue to receive the protections they deserve.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.