Reduction of Bears Ears Monument Park Likely
By Alesha Damerville
photo from bearearscoalition.com
On August 29, 2017 over 350 members of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks signed a letter to Secretary Zinke addressing the issues of oil and gas development around national parks, after his recent recommendation to greatly reduce the size of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, as well as Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. “This activity can affect visual resources such as air quality, scenic views and night skies as well as natural soundscapes, water quality, wildlife habitat within parks and all these can adversely affect the parks visitors,” remarked Mike Murray, retired National Park Service Manager & Superintendent of 34 years.
The National Park Services and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have been using master leasing plans (MLPs) to collaboratively plan and identify important resources before leasing occurs to avoid conflict. “It appears the BLM under the Trump administration is in fact moving away from their prior commitment to the MLB process. This will increase the likelihood that oil and gas development will occur near parks without adequate collaboration between the agencies, which will inevitably cause significant impacts to park resources,” Murray said. “The Coalitions support of the MLP process is a no brainer. We understand that oil and gas leasing on federal lands near national parks is important to our national security and economic interest, however, such development must be well planned and managed. In order to ensure an appropriate balance between energy development and resource conservation, MLPs are the best way to accomplish that.”
National Park Superintendents and Rangers urge the Trump administration and Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reconsider an alarming number of oil and gas leases proposed directly next to our national parks and monuments and to maintain policies that ensure a balance between development on public lands and protecting national parks.
For more on Bears Ears National Park check out the article below: