A petition, “Oppose BLM Auction of Oil/Gas Leases – Zion National Park,” was created Jan. 26 on change.org by Concerned Citizens in an attempt to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from selling public land in Washington County near Zion National Park for oil and gas leasing. The petition predicts deleterious effects upon the immediate environment and subsequent negative impacts on the local economy and requests that the land not be sold.
An excerpt from the petition outlines citizens’ concerns:
“The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) St. George Field Office is proposing to offer 3 parcels of public land, totaling 4,730 acres in close proximity to Zion National Park and the rural residential gateway community of Virgin, UT as oil and gas leases for potential development. The BLM is accepting public comments on this controversial proposal through February 10th, 2017 with an auction scheduled to take place the week of June 12th, 2017.
Two of the parcels being considered for auction are approximately one mile from the boundary of and clearly visible from Zion, Utah’s most visited national park. The surrounding communities are economically sustained almost entirely on tourism and a large number of residents have moved to this area because of its unparalleled wild beauty, diversity of natural resources and abundance of recreational opportunities. Industrial development of oil and gas leases here could potentially and significantly compromise the unique habitat of over 500 species of flora and fauna (some endangered), the health of North Creek drainage (which flows into the Virgin River) and the livelihood of local townspeople. These consequences are deemed inappropriate.”
The full petition can be found online at change.org/u/670738547.