Comments Due Now on Proposed Drilling in Desolation Canyon

The Vernal, Utah unit of the Bureau of Land Management is taking comments on a proposal to allow Gasco to drill 222 natural gas wells adjacent to Desolation Canyon. This comes despite its finding that the Lower Green River in that area is suitable for Congressional designation as a wild and scenic river—classified as “scenic”.

Due to a new technology called “directional drilling”, it is feasible to position roads and drill pads outside of the river’s viewscape and sensitive areas called “ACECs” (Areas of Critical Environmental Concern) such as wetlands.

According to a Wilderness Society alert, “The BLM knows that the company can develop its lease without drilling in the proposed wilderness [in the proposed drilling area but not adjacent to the river] and is considering such an alternative in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Requiring Gasco to use directional drilling, where the company drills from outside the proposed wilderness area, would lead to a fraction of the damage to the values that make the part of Desolation Canyon special.”

Your comments to urge the BLM to choose the alternative (Alternative E) that protects Desolation Canyon and adjacent special lands can be submitted online, but need to be submitted today or tomorrow for the December 30thdeadline.  

If you’ve ever floated Desolation Canyon, you know that it is worth protecting the area’s wilderness values, habitat for raptors, bighorns, bears, and the spectacular rock art of Nine Mile Canyon.

Maps showing affected areas for Alternative A can be found here:

and here:

The full DEIS can be read here:

To learn more about the issues, visit Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance’s comment page at:

Submit your comments to the BLM via email, or by fax to Fax: (435) 781-4410, or by mailing a letter postmarked by December 30, 2010 addressed to:

 Bureau of Land Management

    Attn: Stephanie Howard

    Vernal Field Office

    170 South 500 East

    Vernal, UT 84078