Drilling could happen just outside Arches National Park, but within view of tourist destinations. | Jim Liestman, flickr
Right now, our last remaining wild places are under tremendous threat from pressures of oil and gas development. But some lands are simply too wild to drill.
A new Wilderness Society Report titled Too Wild to Drill spotlights 12 of the most threatened wild places today - places that need protections. They are:
1. Arches National Park, Utah
2. Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
3. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
4. Desolation Canyon, Utah
5. Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado
6. The George Washington National Forest, Virginia,
7. Los Padres National Forest, California
8. North Fork of the Flathead, Montana
9. Otero Mesa, New Mexico
10. Thompson Divide, Colorado
11. Red Desert, Wyoming
12. Wyoming Range, Wyoming.
Right now, federal land management agencies are making decisions about whether to allow drilling to go forward in many of these places.
Slideshow: See the 12 places that are too wild to drill
Map: 12 most threatened wild places are located in states throughout the nation
What drilling would look like on these lands
What does oil and gas drilling do to wildlands? The answer isn't pretty. It includes the following impacts:
- Well pads, roads scar the landscape
- Noise, traffic and fences keep animals from age-old migration routes or prime foraging and breeding habitat
- Oil infrastructure and traffic spoils peaceful settings for visitors
- Haze, chemicals and dust pollute air and water
- Machinery, gas flares, light pollution disrupts scenic views and clear night skies.
Striking a balance
The oil and gas industry already has tremendous access to our public wild lands. Currently they have access to 38 million acres of public lands - that's the size of Florida. And many of the leases aren't even being used. Yet, oil companies continue to press for more access, clearly to some of our most prized wild places. It's time to say enough is enough and insist that the government put conservation on equal footing with oil and gas development.
The Wilderness Society works against the encroachment of oil and gas on special American wild lands. In 2008, we released the first Too Wild to Drill report, which included several wild areas we've successfully protected since the release of the report. These lands include:
- Carrizo Plain, California
- The National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska
- Vermillion Basin, Colorado
- Rocky Mountain Front, Montana
Read the full Too Wild to Drill Report: