Landscapes

Oil and Gas Leases Threaten Nine Mile Canyon

Posted on: November 7th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Earl Ivan White)

Truck traffic threatens prehistoric rock art in Nine Mile Canyon. (Photo: Earl Ivan White)

Late last week, media reports revealed a plan by the Bureau of Land Management to sell oil and gas leases in areas of Utah that contain some the nation’s most significant cultural resources, including ancient rock art in the Nine Mile Canyon region. The reports suggested that these potential sales are being conducted with unusual haste in an effort to complete the sales before the administration changes in January of 2009.

While fully detailed maps of the affected areas are not yet available, we have managed to get some additional information on the specific parcels that would be affected. Unfortunately, it looks like they include thousands of acres within Nine Mile Canyon, which many people call the "World’s Longest Art Gallery."

Specifically, the sale contains at least 21 parcels totaling approx. 36,000 acres that are either partially or entirely within the Nine Mile Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern (which covers a total of 70,368 acres). Although BLM will sell the leases with No Surface Occupancy (NSO) stipulations - which generally prohibit the lessees from constructing wells, pipelines and other types of oil and gas infrastructure within the boundaries of the leases - BLM will not prohibit or restrain the lessees from using Nine Mile Canyon and its principal side canyons to access project areas on the West Tavaputs Plateau.

So, if issued, the leases will in all probability increase industrial traffic levels in the canyon. This is bad news. As those who have followed this issue know, it is the dust kicked up by heavy truck traffic through the Canyon that is causing damage to the rock art (also harmful are the chemical suppressants that ameliorate some of the dust, but also contribute to the degradation of the rock art).

We will continue to monitor the situation closely, but from what we’ve learned thus far, the BLM’s proposal would further increase truck traffic through the Canyon and dramatically exacerbate the damage to thousands of irreplaceable cultural artifacts.

-- Ti Hays & Virgil McDill

Ti Hays is the Public Lands Counsel and Virgil McDill is the Communications Manager at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

January Decision May Seal the Fate of Nine Mile Canyon

Posted on: November 4th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will not release the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) for the West Tavaputs Natural Gas Full Field Development Plan (WTP Plan) this week as we reported last Friday. Rather, BLM will likely issue the Final EIS sometime in January 2009.

The WTP Plan, a proposal by the Bill Barrett Corporation to construct over 800 natural gas wells on the WTP, could cause truck traffic in Nine Mile Canyon to increase by an additional 500 percent, which would in turn expose rock art panels in the canyon to potentially harmful amounts of dust, chemical dust suppressants and vehicle exhaust. Check back in with PreservationNation in January for additional information on the Final EIS and WTP Plan and ways in which you can express your concerns for this proposal to BLM.

– Ti Hays

Ti Hays is the Public Lands Counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

"World's Longest Art Gallery" Again Under Imminent Threat

Posted on: October 31st, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Truck traffic threatens prehistoric rock art in Nine Mile Canyon.

Earlier today, The Washington Post and The Salt Lake Tribune published stories outlining the Bureau of Land Management's December plans to sell oil and gas leases in areas of Utah known to contain some of the nation's most significant cultural and natural resources, including the Nine Mile Canyon region. Unfortunately, this decision represents the latest in a series of moves by BLM to expedite oil and gas leasing and development near Nine Mile Canyon, an area with the highest concentration of rock art sites in the United States that is often referred to as the "world's longest art gallery." In recent years, truck traffic associated with BLM-approved natural gas projects near the Canyon has caused harmful levels of dust and chemicals to settle on the rock art sites. Thus far, BLM has refused to study in detail alternative access routes that would avoid the need for natural gas trucks to use Nine Mile Canyon, even though a September 2008 study funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation shows that these alternative routes are feasible.

Additionally, we have also learned that BLM plans to issue the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Tavaputs Natural Gas Full Field Development Plan early next week (West Tavaputs Plateau is the area within Nine Mile Canyon where most natural gas extraction is now occurring). If the BLM's final EIS approves the energy companies' proposals, truck traffic in Nine Mile Canyon could increase by an additional 500 percent.

Once you have digested Tuesday's election results, check back in with PreservationNation for more information on the lease sale and Final EIS and learn about how you can let BLM know of your concerns for Nine Mile Canyon. In the meantime, here's a video shot back in April, showing the damage done to the canyon's prehistoric rock art by truck traffic.

-- Ti Hays & Virgil Mc Dill

Ti Hays is the Public Lands Counsel and Virgil McDill is the communications manager at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Video: Nine Mile Canyon at Risk

Posted on: April 25th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Learn more -- and take action -- at www.preservationnation.org/nine-mile-canyon.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Notes from the Field: Utah's Nine Mile Canyon Under Threat

Posted on: April 18th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Prehistoric rock art at Nine Mile Canyon.Nine Mile Canyon, located northeast of Price, Utah, is under threat from a new project proposed by Bill Barrett Corporation and the Bureau of Land Management that would bring 800 new wells to the plateau above Nine Mile Canyon and dramatically increase the level of traffic within the canyon.

On Wednesday, we went to the canyon, which is renowned for its significant concentration of prehistoric rock art panels that illustrate a wide variety of images, including bighorn sheep, anthromorphs, and various other animals and figures. The Nine Mile Canyon area is also a prime location for the extraction of natural gas. Visitors to the canyon can see evidence of natural gas development in the form of pipelines, a large compressor station, and, perhaps most noticeably, industrial traffic traveling through the canyon to project sites.

While visiting a number of the canyon's significant rock art panels, we witnessed several large tanker trunks driving through the canyon and raising large plumes of dust in their wake. On several occasions, these trucks passed within yards of rock art panels, particularly those located near Nine Mile Canyon's confluence with Gate and Cottonwood Canyons. Increased traffic will present an increased danger to these irreplaceable artifacts.

The National Trust will provide BLM with comments on the proposal by May 1, and we want to encourage people to speak out about the harm that will result from this new development if it is allowed to move forward as planned. More information about the proposed development and how to contact the BLM is available on our main website.

-- Ti Hays and Amy Cole

Ti Hays is the Public Lands Counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Amy Cole is the Senior Program Officer & Regional Attorney for the Trust's Mountains-Plains Office.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.