Broad Coalition Says No to BLM “Fire Sale,” Files Formal Protest over Utah Land Leasing Spree

Dec 4, 2008

Today a coalition of conservation groups representing more than one million Americans will file a formal administrative protest with Utah’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state office to protect land and resources from a midnight “Fire Sale.” The protest challenges BLM’s decision to auction off 92 parcels of land — covering approximately 100,000 acres — for oil and gas leasing and development, including protected areas that the National Park Service asked BLM to omit from the sale.

The protest challenges BLM’s action to auction leases in wild and remote public lands in Utah, including such places as the White River, the greater Desolation Canyon region, Labyrinth Canyon and the benches east of Canyonlands National Park. See photos.

BLM has set December 12th as its timeline for announcing what additional parcels – if any – it intends to defer from leasing at the December 19th sale. This decision may or may not be the agency’s final decision on the lease sale protests.

The lease sale follows BLM’s equally controversial issuance of six management plans for public lands across eastern and southern Utah, which opened up vast swaths of red rock country to oil and gas drilling and off-road vehicles. The coalition plans to legally challenge these plans. Find more information on the plans.

Protests challenging other parts of the lease sale will also be filed today by a number of other interests, including: the Outdoor Industry Association and other businesses, a coalition of historic preservation organizations – led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and a group of Utah based river guides and outfitters. Find electronic copies of these protests.

See more information about the December 19 lease sale, including maps and photos.