The Bureau of Land Management is proposing leasing parcels of land for oil and gas extraction on the popular Slickrock mountain bike trail in Moab, Utah.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported this morning that the land management agency would open two parcels in Sand Flats, which holds the world famous Slickrock trail. Five other parcels will also be auctioned in Grand County, Utah. The plan will first be opened up for a public comment period on February 20.
The Tribune says the area has a “very low potential for producing energy.”
The BLM Utah holds oil and gas lease sales quarterly, following the Mineral Leasing Act, when eligible lands come up for lease. The lease parcels are lands that the BLM has deemed to be open through its land use process and are then nominated by the public. When parcels are leased, the operators have to submit development proposals to the BLM, and an environmental analysis is conducted.
The BLM says not all lands that are leased become developed. The Sand Flats area proposed in this case is unique because of the high level of recreation that happens around Arches National Park, the Slickrock trail, and other surrounding trails.
“My concern is always that we maintain a balance in our valley and county and surrounding public lands. We know oil and gas are part of the makeup of our economy,” Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus told the Tribune.” We have done a good job of saying where recreation goes and where extraction goes. My question is: Are the recreation areas going to be negatively impacted?”
One of the lease parcels is said to cover almost two-thirds of the Slickrock trail. The BLM says that these parcels were nominated for auction in November of 2019, which would make them available for the June sale.
The BLM is in a partnership with Grand County to manage the Sand Flats recreation area. It lies outside of a Moab master leasing area, established under President Obama, which identified areas that should not be open to development because of the level of recreation.
Under the direction of the Trump administration however, the BLM has shifted to prioritize energy independence and development on public lands.
The BLM will open the comment period for the sale here on February 20, with a 30-day window.