The Bureau of Land Management has set Feb. 28 for a competitive lease auction that will allow oil, gas and carbon dioxide development on Antone Bench, a controversial federal tract in Garfield County.

Leases will be offered on 37,255 acres, not far from the Phipps Box-Death Hollow Wilderness, near Escalante. The land, mostly managed by the U.S. Forest Service, was kept out of the 1984 Utah Forest Service Wilderness Act because of claimed vast carbon dioxide resources.About 12,355 acres are already leased. A total of 1,238 letters and comments were sent during the drafting of an environmental impact statement on future leasing.

Two wilderness groups opposed the leasing, but their appeals were denied, said James Parker, Utah director for the BLM.

Parker said the areas to be offered for lease have been the subject of extensive environmental studies. "Based on these studies, stipulations have been developed that will protect the adjoining wilderness area," he said.

The auction is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the BLM's Utah office, 324 S. State, in the fourth floor conference room. The sale room will be open one hour prior to the auction to let bidders register and obtain a bidding number.

The minimum acceptable bid is $2 per acre. Only oral bids offered by registered bidders will be accepted.