BLM Releases a Forward-Thinking Master Plan for Moab Area

The vast deserts around Moab, Utah are treasured by climbers for their splitter cracks and sandstone towers. But Moab is also home to significant oil, gas, and potash resources, some of which are adjacent to climbing areas, campgrounds, and the Colorado River. In the past, the nearly million-acre region was managed by a plan that offered numerous oil and gas leases in areas adjacent to protected landscapes and premier climbing. President Obama and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tasked the Bureau of Land Management with developing a process to help balance conservation, recreation, and development in this important area.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a forward thinking Master Leasing Plan draft that not only outlines its management of oil, gas, and potash development, but also protects recreation opportunities on more than 900,000 acres of public land in the Moab area, including two of the nation’s most iconic national parks that are located nearby—Arches and Canyonlands.

The Access Fund appreciates that the plan acknowledges the economic contribution of recreation, which goes beyond tourist spending to include the high-skill workers and employers that protect public lands are proven to attract. In fact, the plan indicates that recreation will generate more than twice the economic output of oil and gas development. The plan specifically protects several world-class climbing areas, such as Indian Creek and Wall Street, which are powerful drivers for tourism and provide the local population with health and quality of life benefits. These crags are valuable, unique, non-renewable resources that warrant protection so that they can continue to provide the Moab area with long-term benefits, economic and otherwise.

While the draft plan covers the important issues, there are also ways to improve the final version.The Access Fund will outline and present climber concerns to the BLM during their 90-day comment period. We will reach out to the climbing community to support our recommendations. Stay tuned for more information regarding this landmark plan.