This map shows the parcels within the Sand Flats Recreation Area that were considered for oil and gas development outlined in red. The area outlined in purple is Moab city limits. [Moab Sun News]

Dear Moab Sun News and Grand County residents,

Last week, we began to experience the effects of Trumpycology. That is correct, the Don’s environmental policies have come home to roost in Grand County. Many in the community and, more importantly, the local government have become aware of a BLM plan to scope for oil and gas leasing on two parcels smack dab in the heart of Moab’s EPA-designated Sole Source Aquifer and state-designated drinking water protection area.

First of all and very importantly, our local BLM office and district had nothing to do with this. So, please save your displeasure for the culprits above and not our local BLM staff. Yes, this land is designated “No Surface Occupancy” by the BLM but the lands are being scoped for horizontal drilling. Unfortunately, there are SITLA and private parcels adjacent to the proposed leases where the drill rigs could be located. The parcels are located near or along the Sand Flats Road above and below the Slickrock Trail.

Although not at fault, by calling the local BLM office at 435-259-2100 you can be transferred, free of long-distance charges, to the State BLM Office. Please respectfully let them know how inappropriate these parcels are for oil and gas leasing. All Grand County residents should be opposed to the leasing of these particular parcels. Oil and gas drilling, and the possible associated fracking, is one thing on the greater public lands, but totally inappropriate directly on top of our aquifer.

Besides the obvious threat of this kind of activity in any aquifer, the Sand Flats area is mostly highly fractured Navajo Sandstone, where groundwater moves quickly and predominantly through cracks. Throw in the pressures created by fracking and you have a perfect recipe for accidentally pressurizing chemical pollutants into your adjacent drinking water aquifer. Think of the cracks as pipes; they are designed to transmit fluids quickly, not to clean them.

Please take the time to call and tell the BLM that this area is inappropriate and that, furthermore, they would be hard-pressed nationally to find a more inappropriate site than this for oil and gas leasing!


Dave Erley

Canyonlands Watershed Council, Castle Valley

Sand Flats areas considered for oil and gas lease / Jan 16, 2020