Outdoor Industry asks Secretary Salazar to protect Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness

Last week, over 30 national outdoor brands, led by Black Diamond CEO Peter Metcalf, sent the letter below to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in defense of the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness.  Click here to read Black Diamond’s press release.

Honorable Ken Salazar
United States Department of the Interior
1849 C St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

Re:  Gasco Energy Inc. Uinta Basin Natural Gas Development Project, Desolation Canyon, Utah

Dear Secretary Salazar,

I am writing to you, with the business support of many in the outdoor industry, regarding the proposed Gasco Natural Gas Development Project currently being considered for approval by the Bureau of Land Management in my home state of Utah. If approved as currently proposed, this project will be devastating to one of our nation’s wilderness crown jewels and river trip destinations – Desolation Canyon.

When I stood by your side in Denver last December to proudly support Secretarial Order 3310, Desolation Canyon was one of the places I spoke about as needing to be protected from reckless energy development. When I testified before Congress earlier this year in support of your wildlands policy, Desolation Canyon was one of the places I showcased as being so important to Americans and to the outdoor industry. This is truly one of the iconic gems that is a draw to river runners everywhere and that helps to globally define the uniquely American outdoor industry (one of the few industries that America still dominates globally and one that contributes over $750 billion to the US economy). We need your help and direct involvement to stop this looming threat.

The current version of the Gasco project being considered by the BLM would authorize over 125 new well pads in the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness as well as along Sand Wash Road and Wrinkle Road, the main access roads traveled by thousands each year leading to the river put-in. This development will destroy the wilderness values on thousands of acres of land forever and bring the sight, sound and smell of industrial activity to this spectacularly quiet and remote place. When members of the outdoor industry flew over this area in Utah Governor Olene Walker’s plane some five years ago, she and her staff agreed with our assessment that this area needed to be protected from future oil and gas development.

Protecting Desolation Canyon not only makes sense because it is the right thing to do – it makes good economic sense. River recreation is an important aspect of Utah’s outdoor recreation industry, which according to the Outdoor Industry Association, adds $4 billion to Utah’s economy as well as supports 65,000 jobs and generates about $300 million in annual state sales tax revenue.

Destroying the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness is also completely unnecessary. An alternative in the draft environmental impact statement for the Gasco project evaluated a development plan that would preserve the critical Desolation Canyon recreational experience while still allowing the company to access the majority of the public’s natural gas reserves in the area. This alternative (known as “Alternative E”) should be the starting point for any proposed development on public lands in the area.  This is the alternative supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and tens of thousands of Americans who recognize that there can be a balance between energy development, protecting our wild places, and a vibrant and vigorous recreation industry. Black Diamond and our peer companies in the outdoor industry are seeking to maintain that balance as it’s integral to the vitality of our sustainable, clean and job creating industry.

I understand that the BLM hopes to approve Gasco’s plans by the end of the year. As we have supported you in your plans to protect America’s wildlands, we now need your help to ensure that cooler heads prevail and that Desolation Canyon is protected for current and future generations. Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss this pressing matter.  Thank you.

Most Sincerely,

Peter Metcalf

Joined by the folliowing supportive businesses:

Frank Hugelmeyer
Outdoor Industry Association
Boulder, CO 80301

Peter K. Worley
Teva Brand President
Deckers Outdoor Corporation
Goleta, CA

Casey Sheahan
Ventura, CA

Travis Campbell
President & CEO
Far Bank Enterprises
Bainbridge Island, WA

Bill Kulczycki
General Manager
Gregory Mountain Products
Salt Lake City, UT

Jenn Orgolini
Director of Sustainability and Strategic Development
New Belgium Brewing Company
Fort Collins, CO

Scott W. Kerslake
Vista, CA

Dan Nordstrom
Outdoor Research
Seattle, WA

Jim Osgood
Klean Kanteen
Chico, CA

Andy Vecchione
President & CEO
Polartec LLC
Lawrence, MA

Auden Schendler
Vice President, Sustainability
Aspen Skiing Company
Aspen, CO

Jonathan Lantz
La Sportiva N.A., Inc.
Boulder, CO 80301

Mark Soderberg, CEO
Boa Technology
Denver, CO

Tom Jennings
General Partner
Atmosphere Studios
Salt Lake City, UT

Gary Heward
Liberty Mountain
Salt Lake City, UT

Ty Measom
Camp Chef
Hyde Park, UT

Canice Harte
Park City, UT

Penn Newhard
Backbone Media LLC
Carbondale, CO

Rock Thompson
Rock Exotica Equipment LC
Clearfield, UT

John Le Coq
Dillon, CO

Chris Steinkamp
Executive Director
Protect Our Winters
Pacific Palisades, CA

Mark (Roody) Rasmussen
Petzl America
Clearfield, Utah

Ashley Korenblat
Western Spirit Cycling
Moab, UT

Julie Schaffner
Global Brand Director
Foothill Ranch, CA

Marit Fischer
Communications Manager
Park City, UT

Bill Gamber
Big Agnes, Inc.
Honey Stinger, Inc.
BAP, Inc.
Steamboat, CO

Janet Ross
Executive Director
Four Corners School of Outdoor Education
Monticello, UT

Jules Lambert
Salt Lake City, UT

Patrick Carland
Bamboo Bottle Company
Portsmouth, NH

Greg Easton
Easton Mountain Products
Salt Lake City, UT