Keep oil and gas away from Dinosaur National Monument
One of the single most fascinating experiences in nature is when water meets rock. The water effortlessly carves away sharp corners of rock and creates some of our country’s most beautiful scenery and America’s most iconic landscapes.
This interaction can be witnessed throughout the West and is especially present in Dinosaur National Monument, where the Yampa and Green rivers come together at Echo Park. Here, hundreds of wildlife species and hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy and experience the river each year. As stewards of the river we, the Friends of Yampa, plan to continue protecting and enhancing the river’s environmental and recreational integrity for generations to come.
Floating down the river, visitors can experience the history here and the effort that the Yampa has taken to create and carve out this landscape. Dinosaur National Monument was established in 1915 to protect a stunning quarry of prehistoric plant and animal fossils, and today the monument includes 210,844 acres of some of the finest natural resources Colorado and Utah have to offer.
For all of these reasons, we ask the Bureau of Land Management and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to side with conservation by preserving and protecting Dinosaur National Monument, one of our state’s most cherished heritage sites, for people to enjoy for generations to come. Currently, the BLM is proposing to lease lands for oil and gas drilling that are right next to the monument’s visitor center and entrance road; these leases would significantly impair the renowned scenery, pristine night skies and natural quiet that makes the monument such a special place. We feel this is the wrong direction for the park to be taking.
If these leases go through, this will only pave the way for additional lands and rivers to be threatened by energy development. The oil and gas industry has no business developing near these special, priceless places, whether it be our national monuments or national parks, particularly when the industry is not using so many of the leases and drilling permits that it already owns.
Instead of opening up some of our most iconic lands for drilling, we request that the BLM listen to local stakeholders who live and work on this land and strike the right balance between conservation and development by rejecting these proposed leases by Dinosaur National Monument.
Unfortunately, under the Trump administration, the BLM has started to place more favorable focus on the oil and gas industry, rather than working with local communities to safeguard important places.
We are seeing these in places like southeastern Utah, where a separate oil and gas leasing proposal is threatening two other national monuments — Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep — and in Wyoming, where there is a renewed focus on leasing in the habitat of the threatened greater sage grouse. In Colorado, our economy and our heritage depend on outdoor recreation, so much of which takes places on our pristine public land and waters.
Development on the doorstep of our national monuments should never be considered. The choice is stark, but Americans have time and again affirmed that our national parks, monuments, and iconic landscapes are some of our country’s most precious and enduring assets and should receive the highest level of protection. So, the decision is actually quite clear: the BLM must protect Dinosaur National Monument and keep public lands in public hands.