The St. George field office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have recently announced a proposal to offer two oil and gas leases approximately one mile from Zion National Park in southwestern Utah.
Zion National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country – with over 4 million visitors arriving each year captivated by its breathtaking beauty.
If developed, the two oil and gas drilling parcels could easily be seen from Utah’s most popular national park – degrading the scenic vistas. And the entire area could be devastated by industrial smells, pollution, noise, lighting and traffic. They will also be located next to the residential community of Virgin and dissected by the North Creek drainage – a perennial stream which flows into the Virgin River, a designated National Wild and Scenic River.
“With over 4 million annual visitors to Zion National Park, BLM should be working collaboratively with the National Park Service to protect – not threaten – the world class resources those visitors come to enjoy and be inspired by,” said Cory MacNulty, with the National Parks Conservation Association.
Conserving the Zion National Park area for visitors, tourist-related businesses, and local residents is also a concern for life-time resident, Louise Excell. “I cannot imagine how visitors will feel as they discover pump jacks and flares from oil and gas drilling are visible from both inside and outside the park. Not only will the sight be jarring for visitors and residents, but other important natural resources and quality of life will be affected, including diminished air quality, loss of natural soundscapes, and night skies.”
Interestingly, there are currently no producing wells in this region, BLM is under no requirement to offer these parcels for lease, the oil and gas industry has about 2 million acres of BLM-managed lands in Utah already that they have not developed, and the drilling of new oil and gas wells in Utah even reached a 30-year low in 2016. Therefore, there is clearly no need to offer these two leases for sale and put Zion National Park, and the surrounding region, at risk from mineral development.
How you can save Zion National Park
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