New Oil and Gas Leasing Policies Are a Major Setback for Climbers

The Trump administration just released new policies for oil and gas leasing on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Approximately 12% of America's climbing areas are located on BLM lands, including the vastly reduced Bears Ears National Monument, which was opened to new mineral claims and oil and gas leases today.

Photo courtesy of © Trevor Bowman

Access Fund contends that the Bears Ears National Monument reduction is illegal, and we are fighting it in court. Opening the monument to energy resource exploration and development will cause irreparable harm to the unique and fragile landscape, the recreation experience, and cultural values.

This new BLM Instruction Memorandum ignores BLM’s legal mandate to consider multiple uses. Public lands are owned by all Americans, and it is important that all of the values that are acknowledged by federal land law—including recreation and conservation—are considered when important decisions are made regarding leasing land to private industry.

Instead, these new leasing policies fast-track the leasing process by:

Access Fund is not opposed to energy development, but we believe that public land managers need to include all stakeholders in decision making processes in order to optimize land management strategies. We depend on public process to advocate for the interests of climbers. Without these opportunities, all public land stakeholders will have a lesser voice in the management of their own land.

We are currently working to remind the Trump administration that recreation is an important value of public lands and that the climbing community should be considered when energy leases intersect with climbing environments. The Access Fund policy team will be heading to Washington DC in mid-February to address this issue.

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