Sportsmen Welcome Landscape-Level Planning for Public Lands
DENVER – The final approval of a landscape-level plan to manage future oil and gas development in the Moab, Utah, area marks a major step toward balancing energy development on public lands important to sportsmen and recreationists and provides a good model for other regions.
The Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition said the Moab master leasing plan released Thursday by the Bureau of Land Management is the result of grassroots work by diverse interests and the implementation of leasing reforms intended to better balance activities on public lands.
Master leasing plans, or MLPs, are designed to take a comprehensive look across the landscape before leases are approved rather than a piecemeal approach to approving oil and gas projects. The goal is to plan ahead to avoid or minimize impacts of oil and gas projects on fish, wildlife, water, air and other natural resources while providing more certainty for the industry and others.
“We support better upfront planning for energy development and we hope the BLM will continue to work closely with sportsmen and local governments who have called for Master Leasing Plans in Colorado’s South Park and Wyoming’s Little Mountain,” said Corey Fisher, Senior Policy Director for Trout Unlimited. “We hope to ensure there is a balance between responsibly developing oil and gas and protecting fish and wildlife habitats as well as hunting and fishing opportunities.”
“Master leasing plans provide an opportunity for BLM to take a little closer look at how the impacts of energy development can be mitigated before important fish and wildlife habitat or recreation areas are leased and it could be too late,” said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director. “Better planning upfront will help conserve habitat through smarter design, but it should also decrease delays and uncertainty for industry by reducing the potential for conflicts later down the road.”
“Hunters, anglers and Westerners from across the spectrum are working together on natural-resource issues because of their great love for wildlife and the outdoors. The Moab MLP is an example of what can happen when people sit down, talk and work through their differences to find common ground,” said Joel Webster, Western lands director with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “MLPs are a smart way of doing business on public lands and we support this process that recognizes the importance of our outdoor heritage while allowing responsible oil and gas development.”
Members of the sportsmen’s coalition noted that the city of Moab and Grand County, Utah, have endorsed the MLP, which covers 785,000 acres of public lands in Utah’s Grand and San Juan counties. It encompasses the only remaining native herds of desert bighorn sheep in Utah as well as pronghorn-fawning and mule deer habitat.
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