Oil rigs in the monument would mar visitors' experience who come searching for dinosaur fossils and petroglyphs.
mark byzewski, flickr.
President Trump has made it clear that his administration values fossil fuel development above our lands and climate, and the latest victim could be the pristine night skies, rushing rivers and incredible prehistoric treasures around Dinosaur National Monument.
Until July 24, the American people can voice their concerns for the leasing of 65,000 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in northeastern Utah. Speak up – tell the BLM you don’t want to see drilling on the doorstep to Dinosaur National Monument!
Drilling next to the monument is strenuously and repeatedly objected by the National Park Service, conservation organizations and the local outdoor recreation community—the proposed oil and gas development would create air, light and noise pollution that would be seen from multiple vantage points in the monument, including the entrance road on the western boundary of the monument and the Canyon Visitor Center.
Threat of drilling (again)
This isn’t the first time Dinosaur National Monument has been threatened by oil and gas development—both in 2008 and 2013, the BLM attempted to issue oil and gas leases perilously close to the monument, but rousing objections caused them to reverse course on lease sales. Now, one of the same leases is up for auction again under an administration looking to drill on any last remaining undeveloped landscapes, regardless of their vicinity to our parks and monuments.
The monument is home to countless fossils, drawing 300,000 visitors in 2016 alone. Photo: mark byzewski, flickr.
Also at risk are proposed leases in the heart of nearby Desolation Canyon, home to undocumented petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks, being offered for sale for the third time in five years. What’s even more ghastly is the minimal effort by the BLM to even consider the archaeological potential of the region— the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance contends that the BLM has surveyed less than 1 percent for cultural resources of the proposed leasing parcels.
Oil rigs at a monument entrance!?
Fossil hunters have been unearthing the bygone beasts in this monument for over 100 years, with the expansive mountainous formation situated between Utah and Colorado considered to have some of the most productive source of near-complete dinosaur skeletons in North America. But oil rigs at the entrance to the park sends a clear message that protecting our natural heritage and park visitors’ experience is no longer a priority. The air, water and light pollution from drilling could chase away the thousands that come to float down the Green and Yampa Rivers, seek out trophy elk and hike deep sandstone canyons.
Rafting down the Green River through Dinosaur National Monument attracts thousands every year. Photo: Dylan Steinberg, flickr.
These proposed leases are part of a disturbing trend to sacrifice lands near our parks to the fossil fuel industry. With over 300,000 monument visitors in 2016 adding $20 million to the local communities, the Dinosaur National Monument is not only a natural wonder, but an economic asset to Utah. The Trump administration will do all it can to empower polluters on public lands, and we must speak up before oil rigs take over undiscovered archaeological treasures.