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Health, Science & Environment

Protestors Target BLM Upcoming Lease Sales In Nine Mile Canyon

Ray Bloxham
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
Conservation groups say wilderness areas like this in Upper Desolation Canyon would be harmed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's oil and gas lease plans.

Central Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon isn’t just beautiful. It’s important to Native Americans, conservationists and historians.

Those qualities have prompted the groups to protest the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plans to lease oil and gas drilling rights nearby.

Dennis Willis, president of the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, worries about industrial-scale development in an area so unique and so rich in human history.

“It has stories to tell,” he says. “I don’t know of any other place where you can see so much of that history represented in such a small area.”

Willis says the BLM has officially recognized the value of the place. The agency promised six years ago to draw up recreation and cultural resource plans for the area but never followed through.

“We have not seen hide nor hair of them, and so that is part of our concern.”

Other groups protesting the lease include the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance.

The BLM is offering about 2,700 acres in and around the canyon as part of its Dec. 13 sale of 28 parcels. And the sale is itself extraordinary. That’s because it's the first time the BLM's conducting an auction online.

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