Some Utah destinations considered "Too Wild to Drill"

Jul 25, 2013

Utah's Desolation Canyon is one of 12 spots in eight states that a new report deems "Too Wild to Drill," suggesting protections from further oil and gas leasing and development.

A new report lists 12 destinations as "Too Wild to Drill" for oil and gas, for their proximity to national parks and wilderness areas. Compiled by The Wilderness Society, it includes Arches National Park near Moab and the Desolation Canyon area near Vernal.

Oil and gas companies already have leased more than 38-million acres of public land, and a new report says there's no need for them to target other parcels that adjoin national parks and areas with wilderness, historic and recreation values.

The Wilderness Society report names a dozen locations in eight states it says are "Too Wild to Drill." Utah is home to two of them – Arches National Park and Desolation Canyon. Nada Culver with The Wilderness Society says 25-million acres of the land currently leased haven't been developed.

"That’s a lot of land, about the size of the state of Florida, that they’re sitting on. That is public land that belongs to everyone, and it’s not being produced but it’s being tied up and it is a concern, here and everywhere else," Culver said.

The report mentions a plan to allow almost 13-hundred oil and gas wells in the Desolation Canyon area, that gained BLM approval about a year ago. Culver says conservation groups are asking that the agency pare down the plan by a few hundred wells, and keep them off the land closest to the canyon.

"They certainly got a lot of pressure from this company, claiming that it was really important to drill this area," Culver said. "We don’t think anything could be more important, when there’s already more than 1,000 wells that could be drilled, to take the opportunity to protect wilderness and wildlife, and water and recreation, and cultural history."

The report also notes that one million people visit Arches National Park every year – most likely to see the natural stone arches, not oil and gas wells.