Oil, gas development on nearby lands could still impact national park.
SALT LAKE CITY –Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it would not include two parcels of land near Dinosaur National Monument in an upcoming oil and gas lease sale. However, the agency will still auction off four other parcels that, if developed, could adversely impact the visitor experience, recreation opportunities, and views that drive visitors to the national park site.
The BLM’s announcement does not adequately resolve concerns raised by National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and other stakeholders about these parcels. NPCA will be taking a more in-depth look at the final environment analysis released today, but if the agency is claiming that impacts to Dinosaur National Monument will be addressed through permitting, it will already be too late in the process to do so. By not deferring the parcels, BLM has already committed to allowing development to move forward, greatly reducing opportunity for public input or oversight.
Below is a statement by David Nimkin, NPCA Senior Southwest Regional Director:
“In northeast Utah it is critical that our public lands are managed to allow for energy development to move forward where appropriate, but not where it has the potential to do harm to Dinosaur National Monument. We cannot keep Dinosaur the wild and wonderful place it is if we allow oil rigs on its borders.
“While the BLM made a good decision to remove the two parcels that could do the greatest damage to Dinosaur if developed, leaving the other four in its lease sale is troubling. Development of these four parcels which together, are within the direct view of the park’s Quarry Visitor Center and the world famous Carnegie Fossil Quarry. It would also threaten the health of the Colorado River system and could further reduce air quality at Dinosaur, all while adding intensive industrial traffic to the park’s access road.
“NPCA has consistently advocated for the BLM to balance responsible energy development with protecting nearby sensitive resources. Leasing near national parks and monuments and other protected public lands should only happen through inclusive transparent planning and review and coordinating with all stakeholders. Balancing these interests benefits the park and local economies.”
On June 22, BLM released a draft environmental analysis for 64 proposed oil and gas leases in northeastern Utah to offer at their December 2017 competitive lease sale.
A diverse group of interests including the State of Utah, the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ranchers, conservation organizations and local leaders raised concerns about specific parcels near Dinosaur National Monument as part of the December lease sale. NPCA and more than 13,000 of our supporters, including many in Utah, noted that of the 64 parcels proposed for lease, development on six parcels near Dinosaur would pose a significant threat to the park site, its resources and the local economies it supports.
Dinosaur National Monument contributes to a more diverse and sustainable economy in northeastern Utah and the state as a whole. In 2016, the National Park Service Visitor Spending Effects Report showed that 304,312 visitors to Dinosaur National Monument spent more than $18 million in communities near the park. In turn, that spending supported nearly 250 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of more than $20 million. Overall, national parks like Zion drove over $1.1 billion in visitor spending in gateway communities across Utah last year while supporting nearly 18,000 jobs.
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 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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Angela GonzalesAssociate Director, Communications