BLM's Moab leasing plan to debut

Published: Monday, May 12 2014 7:42 p.m. MDT

"There is no such thing as the Recreation Asset Protection Act," she said. "There is really not an obligation for (the BLM) to check on recreation assets, and to me that is an example of how the recreation economy has grown faster than the regulations."

Korenblat added that the current system does not foster an appropriate level of preplanning for an area so rich in resources.

"A parcel-by-parcel approach just leaves you spot zoning. Nobody wants to go camping next to a drill pad," she said.

The master leasing process would allow the BLM to amend current land planning documents, called a resource management plan, and set restrictions in place at the outset. It does not interfere with existing mineral rights or impair the 29 existing gas and oil wells within the planning area.

Planning documents that chart the type of oil and gas development that could take place over the next 15 years note that there could be 128 new wells that have the potential to disturb 1,050 acres within the planning region. High-to-moderate development areas for potash envision as much as 2.4 million tons of potash that could be extracted in a year.

The BLM plans to release its range of possible resource extraction scenarios Wednesday prior to its open house from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Grand Center, 182 N. 500 West, Moab. Those alternatives could be as expansive as an outright moratorium on any new industry activity or leave existing, available leases untouched.

Some groups are hopeful the leasing plan institutes an approach that settles some of the conflict and controversy that arise when a mix of interests compete for the same land — be it mineral extraction, fishing and hunting, or hiking and biking.

"Master lease plans, which can help minimize impacts and conflicts resulting from poorly planned oil and gas projects, will help balance energy development with the needs of fish and wildlife," said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership's Center for Responsible Energy Development. "That’s good for a range of stakeholders, including business owners dependent on sportsmen who pursue their passions in areas with valuable habitat.”

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