Plans change, and yesterday they started to change in our favor.
In a blog post on November 7, 2008, we reported that the Bureau of Land Management was reviving plans to sell oil and gas leases in wilderness areas in eastern Utah before the end of the year - a project that could include tens of thousands of acres in and around Nine Mile Canyon. As many of you know, Nine Mile Canyon is an unparalleled cultural resource with over 10,000 rock art images on more than 1,000 panels. Projects like these threaten the canyon's irreplaceable resources due to the ever increasing dust, chemical suppressants and vehicle emissions associated with industrial truck traffic.
Despite the fact that the December 19 target date for the lease sale is inching closer and closer, an important announcement yesterday demonstrates that it is not too late to take a step in the right direction.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation both commends the Bureau of Land Management for deferring eight of the approximately twenty leases planned for sale in and near Nine Mile Canyon, and urges the agency to continue to make decisions that protect the at-risk resources. The deadline for objections to the lease sale is today, and, as noted in a Salt Lake Tribune article that ran yesterday, the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be filing an official protest (which will be available online soon) arguing for deferrals for the sensitive tracts below the canyon's rim that remain on the lease list.
The lease list will be finalized by December 12. As we continue to monitor this sale and report on critical changes, we invite you to visit our Nine Mile Canyon page to learn more about our work in the resource-rich region and to download a lease sale map released yesterday by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.