Utah BLM does right by Moab’s multi-million dollar outdoor recreation and tourism industry
There’s no question that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management have a tough job. They aren’t as celebrated as rangers in our national parks and national forests, but their job is just as important to balance multiple use and natural resources on public lands such as outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, watersheds, air quality, energy development, and mining.
All too often, things get divisive as “us versus them” in the public lands debate with BLM land mangers stuck in the middle.
Utah BLM has shown it doesn’t have to be that way for Moab. Last month, after a lot of hard work and outreach with stakeholders, they developed a smart-from-the-start approach for balancing oil and gas development with outdoor recreation and tourism for public lands in the Moab area.
Outdoor recreation brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development to the Moab thanks to our stunning national parks and the world-class recreation opportunities on adjacent BLM-managed public lands.
From visiting Arches and Canyonlands, to biking Slickrock Trail, or rafting the Green River, opportunities abound to enjoy the Moab area’s great outdoors. By attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors, public lands pump money into the local economy, sustain businesses, and create jobs.
Not only are outdoor recreation and tourism fundamental drivers in our local economy, they are critical to our local tax bases providing 2.5 to 3.5 times more revenue than energy development and mining for Grand County.
However, we don’t have to have a zero-sum game of one industry versus another. Utah BLM has proven that we can have both a robust economy built upon the protection of public lands and the responsible development of oil and gas development and potash mining. Specifically, Alternative C in the Moab Master Leasing Plan presents the best opportunity to protect the lands critical to outdoor recreation and thousands of local jobs while still allowing responsible drilling and mining projects to move forward.
In fact, 56 Utah businesses (more than 45 of which were based in Moab) submitted a proposal backing a similar approach.
Striking that balance is no small feat, but that’s what Utah BLM accomplished with Alternative C. For that great work and progress on the Moab Master Leasing Plan, Utah BLM deserves high praise and thanks from the Moab business community.
There’s still a long way to go before the Moab Master Leasing Plan is finished, but Utah BLM is on the right track.