Under President George W. Bush, the Utah office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made some infamously bad decisions — including attempting to lease lands next to Arches National Park for oil and gas drilling.
Unfortunately, 5 years after Bush left office, Utah BLM is still following his administration’s playbook — and now the BLM wants to allow oil and gas drilling in proposed wilderness areas in the San Rafael Swell.
Last week, 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?
In an editorial written this week, the Salt Lake Tribune noted that the auction list included four leases that impinge on the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. “Only after the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance pointed out that the parcels were inside a 721-acre National Natural Landscape designated by Congress in 1965 did the agency concede it had made a mistake,” the Tribune editors wrote. “Such errors don’t inspire trust that BLM officials are taking a close look at the areas targeted for leasing.”
Please, take a moment to contact the BLM, and then forward this email on to your friends and family and ask them to do the same.