Moab businesses ask BLM to protect public lands for recreation economy

<span>MOAB, Utah – Business owners in the Moab area are calling on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to balance oil and gas development with tourism and recreation as the agency puts together its long-term plan for public lands in the region.</span>

<span>Kirstin Peterson, co-owner of Rim Mountain Bike Tours and a Moab City Council member, is among a coalition of about 50 business owners that sent a letter to the agency this week.</span>

<span>The coalition is asking that the </span><a href=”” target=”parent”>BLM’s Master Leasing Plan for the Moab area</a><span> determine oil and gas development, and potash mining, in ways that aim to protect the regional recreation economy. </span>

<span>”There’s vast tracks of land that right now are not being used to further the recreation economy,” says Peterson. “There are definitely plenty of areas that we feel could remain open to mineral extraction.”</span>

<span>Master Leasing Plans encourage energy development in lower-conflict areas, while protecting recreation and tourism sites. </span>

<span>Peterson points out that tourism in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, as well as other local attractions, adds millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the local economy.</span>

<span>”The primary driving force behind our sales tax is visitors and tourists, and people that are here to visit our national parks, to recreate on our public lands, and to just enjoy a really world-class asset that we have here,” she says.</span>

<span>U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has praised the Master Leasing Plan idea. She has said the plans minimize conflict and help businesses drive a more predictable return on investment.</span>

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