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Environews: Thumbs up for Moab Master Leasing Plan

By Amy Brunvand

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a new Moab Master Leasing Plan for about 785,567 acres of public land in Grand and San Juan counties which will help balance conservation and recreation with industrial development associated with oil/gas and potash leasing.

The new plan is an example of citizen activism and stakeholder input working together to achieve better environmental policies.

Back in 2008 during the Bush Administration, an environmentally terrible Moab Resource Management Plan was released that prioritized energy development and expanding off-road vehicle recreation. Environmental groups led by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed a lawsuit opposing the plan, and when BLM auctioned oil and gas leases on the boundary of Arches National Park, Tim DeChristopher bid on them, an act of civil disobedience that drew national attention to conflicts between development and conservation.

The Obama administration eventually recognized a need for oil and gas leasing reform, and a BLM news release says that the new Moab plan was needed “to address a leasing system that was close to the breaking point with nearly half of all proposed parcels receiving community protests and a substantial proportion resulting in litigation.”

The landscape-level plan considers cumulative impacts and identifies areas where industrial development is incompatible with other land uses. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel praised community and stakeholder involvement in the new plan and said, “As the first Master Leasing Plan in Utah, the collaborative process is a model for how communities can work together to support thoughtful development while protecting world-class environmental, cultural and recreational resources.”

Moab Master Leasing Plan:

This article was originally published on January 10, 2017.