BLM withdraws 2 controversial oil and gas leases from Moab’s Sand Flats

BLM withdraws 2 controversial oil and gas leases from Moab’s Sand Flats

(Mark Sevenoff, Western Spirits Cycling)



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SALT LAKE CITY — After public pressure from elected officials, including Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, the Bureau of Land Management announced Friday it is pulling two leases for potential oil and gas development at the Sand Flats Special Recreation Management Area.

“We understand that the public has concerns about two of the parcels that were considered during the internal review period,” said Nicollee Gaddis-Wyatt, Moab field manager. “After careful consideration and analysis over the last two months, those parcels will not be included in the proposed June oil and gas lease sale.”

The federal agency had not yet offered any parcels for consideration in the June sale and is completing an environmental assessment, but the parcels could have been up for auction.

Earlier this week, elected officials from Moab and Grand County and representatives from the outdoor recreation sector raised concerns about the parcels potentially being developed. They wanted Herbert to weigh in, and his office issued a statement asking for reconsideration of these two particular parcels.

The BLM acknowledged those concerns Friday.

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“Recreation access is a priority of ours — as well as responsible energy development — and both provide important economic benefits to Utah. As a resident, recreater and manager of public lands in Moab, I understand the public’s concerns,” said acting Canyon Country District Manager Brian Quigley.

Gaddis-Wyatt added that “we are committed to supporting recreation and protecting natural resources in the Moab field office and to listening to our neighbors and representatives in the local communities.”

The BLM co-manages the recreation area with Grand County, an arrangement in place since 1994.

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Amy Joi O'Donoghue

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