BLM poised to sacrifice Labyrinth Canyon for fertilizer!

The BLM is poised to approve American Potash LLC’s application to drill four core holes to explore for potash in the Labyrinth Canyon area.  The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of a Canadian potash development company, has applied to explore for potash (an ingredient in commercial fertilizer) on the eastern flanks of the Green River as it flows through Labyrinth Canyon.  Three of the proposed core drilling sites are within America’s redrock wilderness and the Greater Canyonlands region.

ÒSÓ Curve in Green River, Proposed BLM Wilderness, Utah     Labyrinth Canyon
The Green River in Labyrinth Canyon. Copyright Tom Till.

Labyrinth Canyon’s geological and archaeological wonders are internationally recognized, with artifacts dating back to the mammoth hunter era 10,000 years ago.  Boaters treasure the long stretches of quiet that pervade this section of the Green River as they glide on the calm water and explore the winding side canyons.  Labyrinth Canyon is a sparkling gem in Greater Canyonlands.

The proposed potash exploration will necessitate widening and upgrading existing vehicle routes, and constructing several new routes across the desert to allow access for drill rigs and other drilling equipment.  Visitors to the area will encounter heavy equipment, truck traffic, noise, dust, night lighting, and sludge pits if the BLM approves the exploration.  This should not happen!

BLM in the midst of correcting flawed plan

As we noted in a previous blog about the potash exploration on Hatch Point, the BLM has acknowledged that its current management plan fails to adequately identify areas where oil, gas and potash development should occur.  As a result, the Moab BLM is re-evaluating its previous decisions and taking a closer look at where such development should occur in order to correct this oversight.  This do-over is known as the Master Leasing Plan process.  As part of the Master Leasing Plan, the BLM is considering new management constraints for public lands in the Moab area, including closing the Labyrinth Canyon and the Hatch Point areas to leasing and potash development.  The Moab BLM’s draft Master Leasing Plan is scheduled for release this fall.

Putting the cart before the horse, again

Rather than waiting for the Master Leasing Plan to be completed, the BLM is set to make a decision to allow exploratory potash drilling near the Green River, illustrating the immediate need for a higher level of protection for the lands in Greater Canyonlands.

Please urge the BLM not to sacrifice wilderness-quality lands for fertilizer and a private corporation’s bottom line!