The newest threat to Utah’s redrock wilderness is the Trump administration’s short-sighted push to achieve “energy dominance” by offering up our most spectacular public lands for oil and gas leasing and development.

A SUWA-led coalition of conservation organizations has challenged 45 of the 75 parcels that were offered at the BLM’s December 2017 oil and gas lease sale. Within the 94,000 acres are controversial leases in the Molen Reef region of the San Rafael Swell, the Desolation Canyon region, and along the entrance road to Dinosaur National Monument.

In similar fashion, the Utah BLM plans to auction off 43 parcels covering 51,400 acres of federal public land managed by its Moab and Monticello field offices at the agency’s March 2018 lease sale. Included in this sale are parcels near Bears Ears, Hovenweep, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments, parcels in the culturally rich Alkali Ridge region of San Juan County, and in wilderness-caliber lands such as Hatch Point / Hatch Canyon, Labyrinth Canyon, and Goldbar Canyon. We intend to challenge this ill-founded decision too.

In a headlong rush to exploit our public lands in the name of “energy dominance,” the Trump administration is auctioning off lease parcels in wild and culturally-rich landscapes like Tin Cup Mesa near Hovenweep National Monument. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

To further expedite its sell-off of our public lands for oil and gas leasing and development, the Trump administration has made it harder for the public to participate in and challenge the BLM’s leasing decisions and easier for the BLM to lease everything in sight. The agency has also eliminated the master leasing plan concept—a planning process which had struck a more informed balance between oil and gas leasing and development and protection of environmental values.

SUWA will continue to engage at every step of BLM’s oil and gas leasing process that threatens Utah’s redrock wilderness. Stay informed of our ongoing work by signing up for alerts at

—Landon Newell

(From Redrock Wilderness newsletter, spring 2018 issue)