More great news! Wild lands in San Rafael Swell won’t be leased!

More great news! Wild lands in San Rafael Swell won’t be leased!

San Rafael Swell Rally
A woman protests proposed oil and gas leases during a rally in front of the BLM’s state offices September 16, 2013.

Today, the Bureau of Land Management made the right decision and dropped its plans to lease 80,000 acres of wilderness-caliber lands in the San Rafael Swell for oil and gas development.

The decision comes after an outpouring of public opposition. More than 5,000 citizens flooded the BLM with comments decrying BLM’s proposed lease sale. Another 200 packed the plaza outside the agency’s office during a rally in September. The Salt Lake Tribune editorialized against the sale, and publications around the country, including the New York Times, covered the controversy.

Citizens argued that the Swell – a geologic wonderland of majestic mesas, jagged cliff faces, twisting spires and hoodoos in south central Utah – is too precious to drill. The region has been proposed for protection as a national park, national monument, national conservation area, and wilderness. The Swell is a popular destination for hikers, canyoneers, bikers, jeepers, rock act aficionados, and anyone seeking to saturate their eyes with beauty.

Conservationists also argued that the lease sale was unnecessary. More than 3 million acres of BLM lands are already under lease in Utah but have not been developed.

SUWA, joined by a host of other conservation groups, filed a protest to the lease sale.

BLM’s decision means that the San Rafael Swell will be spared – for now – the presence of drill rigs, sprawling pipelines, road scars, gas flares, air pollution and the thump, thump, thumping of pumpers.

BLM made the right decision, and every citizen who wrote, spoke, rallied, or raised a sign encouraging them to do so deserves our thanks!