Press Release Jul 27, 2018

Near Canyonlands, BLM Moves to Lease First and Ask Questions Later

“Rather than striking a balance between energy development and national park protection, this administration continues to lease first, and ask questions later."

SALT LAKE CITY – In the latest rushed oil and gas leasing process that favors development over national park protection, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning to include 158,944 acres of land near Canyonlands National Park in their September oil and gas lease sale. The BLM’s inadequate 10-day protest period ends August 6 for the proposed sale, which includes nearly 109 parcels including some within the viewshed and immediate proximity to the Horseshoe Canyon unit of Canyonlands.

Canyonlands National Park, a designated International Dark Sky Park, welcomed more than 740,000 visitors in 2017. Visitors contributed more than $44 million in tourism spending to local economies and supported over 600 jobs. The larger constellation of leases puts at risk the remote nature of the area and its dark skies and natural quiet, in addition to elevating air pollution by drastically increasing industrial traffic on rural roads in southern Utah.

This massive lease sale by the BLM adds to a growing list of proposed oil and gas development on BLM land near national parks, which since the start of 2017 has included parcels near Dinosaur and Hovenweep National Monuments, and Zion, Great Sand Dunes and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks, and others.

Statement by Jerry Otero, Southwest Energy Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association

“Rather than striking a balance between energy development and national park protection, this administration continues to lease first, and ask questions later. Cutting out the public from public lands decisions is having serious impacts in Utah and this time puts Canyonlands, one of the nation’s iconic national parks, at risk.

“The exclusion of a public comment period on the anticipated environmental impacts from development on lands that will affect Canyonlands National Park, which sees nearly 800,000 visitors, is backwards.”

“What are we saying about the value of our parks when we are willing to risk these unique landscapes and protected places for the sake of short-term development? The BLM must seriously weigh the many non-drilling uses of shared landscapes that are critical to supporting the immediate and long-term integrity of these special places.”

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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 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.