National Park Service warned lease sale could harm national monument in Utah

The Bureau of Land Management disregarded a request by the National Park Service that it hold off leasing 17,000 acres of public land in Utah because of concerns that drilling there could harm Hovenweep National Monument’s views and air, groundwater and sound quality.

All 13 parcels were sold online as part of a broader sale, with the lease prices ranging from $3 to roughly $91 an acre.

According to an Oct. 23, 2017 letter, the Park Service outlined concerns about future oil and gas drilling activities on not just Hovenweep, but also three other sites under its jurisdiction in southern Utah: Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Natural Bridges National Monument.

The parcels in the southeast part of the state also lie near Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, although that is across the border in Colorado.

“The visiting public expects high-quality experiences across federal land, and we are concerned that continuing to offer parcels for oil and gas exploration and development in proximity to our parks will be detrimental to those experiences,” wrote Kate Cannon, superintendent of the Park Service’s Southeast Utah Group.

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