Press Release Mar 27, 2015

NPCA Calls the 'Dinosaur Trails' Master Leasing Plan Step in the Right Direction

Moves Monument Toward Stronger Balance of Conservation, Development, and Recreation

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) White River Field Office in Colorado published the final draft of its resource management plan (RMP) amendment, which includes a Master Leasing Plan (MLP) focused on the area surrounding Dinosaur National Monument. The MLP revises the agency’s framework for how and where oil and gas leasing can proceed on public lands near Dinosaur, in the northwest corner of Colorado, in order to balance the needs of developers with protections for natural resources, night skies, natural quiet, and views of this national monument.

In addition to its stunning canyons, mountains, and mesas that house the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers, tributaries to the Colorado River, the monument includes numerous Native American petroglyphs and provides habitat for the greater sage grouse, a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The monument attracts a quarter million visitors annually, contributing over $17 million annually to the economy and support hundreds of jobs to the region. But extensive oil and gas development in the area has placed Dinosaur National Monument among the most at-risk parks for some air pollutants, according to both BLM and National Park Service studies.

Air pollution creates hazardous health conditions for visitors and surrounding communities, and reduces visibility of the exquisite viewsheds that visitors come to experience at our national parks. Development also poses threats to water quality, and fragments habitats critical for the movement of species inside and outside of the park.

Below is a statement by David Nimkin, Southwest Senior Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association:

“We commend the BLM for recognizing the importance of Dinosaur National Monument by issuing the ‘Dinosaur Trails’ Master Leasing Plan. As Dinosaur National Monument celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, protecting this national monument, originally established to protect Jurassic-Period fossils at the Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, is a necessary action to ensure we continue to preserve the public’s priceless resources. The MLP offers a solid step toward protecting the natural and cultural resources at the national park site and safeguarding visitors’ experiences by minimizing the harmful side effects of oil and gas development near the monument.

“We are pleased that BLM used the MLP process to determine how development can occur in a way that limits harm to the experience of visiting Dinosaur National Monument. We’re also pleased special efforts were made in the MLP to preserve postcard vistas by keeping development out of the monument’s viewsheds.

“While the RMP includes certain measures to protect further air quality degradation, we are concerned with the level of discretion in applying those measures. Considering the cultural significance and natural beauty of Dinosaur National Monument and the degree of degradation that has already occurred, BLM needs to give serious consideration to strengthening the air quality measures as they finalize the plan within the 30-day public comment period.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and 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.