After concerned citizens spoke up to the governor of Utah, the BLM removed two contested land parcels from a federal auction of public lands for oil and gas leases.
A few weeks ago, the BLM announced plans to lease parcels of land that contained an iconic recreation trail to oil and gas development. Today, the BLM changed its mind, announcing the removal of two of the parcels in question in the Sand Flats Recreation Area in Moab from the auction.
“Parcels 11 and 12 located within the Sand Flats Special Recreation Management Area will not be included in the June 2020 competitive oil and gas lease sale,” the BLM Office announced. “To provide certainty, the BLM is sharing this information with the public prior to issuing the June competitive oil and gas lease sale environmental assessment.”
The decision came shortly after the mayor of Moab, Governor Gary Herbert of Utah, and citizens spoke out earlier this week regarding the importance of preserving the area. The Governor’s Office wrote this statement:
“The Governor appreciates the unique beauty of the Slickrock area and wants to ensure that nothing is done that would be detrimental to the visitor experience or local water quality. He has asked the Bureau of Land Management to defer the lease sales and consider more fully how they might impact those factors.”
The controversial plots of land in question contained more than two-thirds of Moab’s iconic Slickrock Recreation Trail.
The inclusion of the two parcels created an uproar in Moab, which bases much of its local economy on tourism. Many mountain bike, conservation, and business organizations unified in opposition to the proposed sale. The 10.5-mile trail and surrounding Sand Flats Area get over 160,000 visitors each year.
The BLM will issue the environmental assessment for public review and comment during the week of February 23, 2020.