BLM to host open house on proposed Master Leasing Plan
by Rudy Herndon
Staff Writer
May 08, 2014 | 1981 views | 0 0 comments | 76 76 recommendations | email to a friend | print
How can federal land managers balance energy and potash development with other uses on public lands near Moab?

U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials are hoping that members of the public will help them answer that question.

The agency’s Utah Canyon Country District Office is hosting a May 14 open house on the Master Leasing Plan process, and is inviting residents to learn more about the preliminary alternatives that have been developed so far. The open house will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Grand Center, 185 N. 500 W.

The meeting will kick off a two-week public comment period, and BLM officials say the feedback they gather during that time will help them finalize their proposal.

The Moab Master Leasing Plan will ultimately set the framework for future oil, gas and potash leases on BLM lands inside a 946,469-acre planning area in southern Grand and northern San Juan counties.

The area is home to some of the country’s most unique landscapes, and an estimated 2 million visitors travel through it each year. Yet it’s also valued for its natural resources, and in recent years, energy and potash companies have filed applications to lease hundreds of thousands of acres, according to the BLM.

In the past, the BLM’s local office analyzed those projects through a much broader Resource Management Plan process. But in response to a 2010 order from its Washington, D.C., office, the agency began to work on a more specific structure to regulate future oil, gas and potash development.

Under the Master Leasing Plan process, additional planning and analysis may be required before new leases on BLM-administered lands could be opened up to oil, gas or potash developers. It may also lead to new stipulations on mineral leases, as well as other potential constraints on new development within the planning area, according to a BLM overview of the process.

Western Spirit Cycling Adventures CEO Ashley Korenblat says she is a big fan of the concept.

She believes the process will promote the responsible development of oil, gas and potash resources, while ensuring that priceless recreational and environmental assets are protected.

“The Master Leasing Plan is one of the best tools we have for being able to have our cake and eat it, too,” Korenblat said this week.

Copies of the preliminary Master Leasing Plan alternatives were not available as of press time this week.

But Lisa Bryant, assistant field manager for the BLM’s Moab office, said that maps of the alternatives will be available at the May 14 open house. Bryant is also hopeful that copies of the maps will also be posted that same day on the district’s Master Leasing Plan website at www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/MLP.html.

For more information, contact the Moab BLM office at: 435-259-2100.

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