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Our favorite stories about public lands and opportunities for you to get involved in protecting your outdoor experiences.


Outdoor Alliance Weighs in on BLM Oil Shale and Tar Sands Plan

Tania Lown-Hecht

Some of our nation’s best recreation areas are in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado – often right on top of areas with the potential for extractive energy development. Last week, Outdoor Alliance commented on the BLM’s new, far-reaching oil shale and tar sands development plan for those three states. 

With the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, the BLM is considering the potential for oil shale and tar sands development on 2,431,000 acres of public land. Just some of the threatened activities include paddling in Desolation and Grays Canyons on the Green River; climbing, mountain biking and hiking in the San Rafael Swell; and paddling on the Escalante.

While we support the prudent development of energy resources on public lands, there are great risks. Poorly planned extractive development threatens outdoor recreation and the local economies it supports, not to mention wildlife habitat, the quantity and quality of water available, and other resources that Western states rely on.

We believe more research must be done to ensure that extractive technology does not harm the irreplaceable resources that support stable, vital economies and communities.

One of the BLM’s alternatives, Alternative 3, outlines a cautious approach that requires adequate research, and leaves an appropriate amount of land available for this crucial step. We support this alternative. It correctly weighs the experimental nature of the technology against the internationally significant outdoor recreation areas that sustain local economies and promise long-term economic benefits.

Please click here to view our comments.

Want to see what recreation areas could be affected? Click here to download and view in Google Earth.