In August, the BLM announced its intention to sell 50 leases covering more than 79,000 acres of proposed wilderness in the San Rafael Swell — the iconic uplift of jagged cliff faces, narrow slot canyons, and hidden valleys that forms one of the scenic and geological wonders of the world.
The BLM itself acknowledges that many of these lands in the San Rafael Swell are wilderness caliber – including wilderness inventory areas (WIAs) like the 39,000-acre Eagle Canyon WIA and the 37,000-acre Lost Spring Wash WIA, both of which are on the chopping block. Nonetheless, the Utah BLM is following a resource management plan that was shoved through in the final days of the Bush administration.
Incredibly, the sale of these new leases comes at a time when there are more than 3 million acres of BLM lands in Utah already under lease but not being developed by industry. So why is the Utah BLM rushing to lease proposed wilderness areas in the Swell for oil and gas drilling?