Grand County, Utah Affirms Support for Moab Master Leasing Plan
County Council approves letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging use of planning tool
Utah’s Grand County Council voted to send a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, asking him to uphold the locally-driven Moab Master Leasing Plan (MLP). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plan, which is the result of several years of planning and a robust stakeholder process, zones the area around Moab in order to balance the management of resource extraction with recreation assets. The Moab MLP, which encompasses 785,000 acres of public land, has been endorsed by 75 local businesses, as well as the City of Moab and previous iterations of the Grand County Council. The plan was finalized in 2016.
The letter, approved by the council urged Zinke to consider impacts development has on the recreation economy, as well as the MLP process itself, saying, “Given the investment of time and energy by so many crucial stakeholders in achieving a positive outcome with the MLP, it is critical that BLM now implement the MLP in accordance with the protections that were adopted in that plan,” the council states. “This means including the measures that are designed to protect our area’s national parks, recreation resources, and scenic public lands while also supporting the oil and gas development that is important to our community.” Moab area businesses demonstrated strong support to the County Council for the Moab MLP, noting that “It is possible for extraction and recreation to coexist — the Moab MLP proves it.”
The MLP includes stipulations on surface occupancy and other measures designed to limit the impacts of oil and gas drilling on the local recreation and tourism economy. As recreation continues to grow as an economic driver throughout the nation, planning is necessary to ensure the most efficient use of the landscape, and the most economic impact for local communities.
An upcoming lease sale in March 2018 will include some lands within the MLP area, and this lease will be an important test whether the Bureau of Land Management will appropriately follow the stipulations in the plan.
You can read more about balancing recreation and energy development here.