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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Historic Agreement Protects Nine Mile Canyon Rock Art, Allows Nearby Natural Gas Development

A truce has been called in the long battle over development in the Nine Mile Canyon area, with the various participants agreeing to specific measures to protect the canyon's ancient rock art while still allowing natural gas development nearby.

The agreement is highly significant for that particular canyon, and may also signify various interest groups are willing to negotiate and compromise about other sensitive areas -- an attitude that has been lacking in the all-or-nothing war over environmental protection for vast amounts of land in southern Utah.

The agreement generated news stories carried by various media around the world. Utah's Deseret News has this comprehensive article. Below are excerpts.

With much fanfare, back-slapping and congratulatory smiles, an agreement loftily described by many as historic, precedent-setting and landmark was signed by a multitude of people with vested interests in Nine Mile Canyon.

With its 50 miles of prehistoric rock art and its proximity to natural gas fields, the canyon has for years been at the center of a tug-of-war between cultural resource preservationists and those who seek to tap the adjacent land rich with energy resources.

"It's a diverse group who was able to reach a consensus in a relatively short period of time," said the Bureau of Land Management's Mike Stiewig, who oversees the agency's office in Vernal. Gesturing toward the room full of people that included energy company executives, archaeologists and representatives from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Stiewig said the diversity of attendees — and agreement supporters — underscored a milestone achievement in collaboration.

"This is a beautiful example of how it should be done," she said. "The law is for the public because these resources belong to the public."

Under the agreement, Barrett must embrace an aggressive dust-suppression plan and require its 35 employees in that area, as well as subcontractors, to be schooled in mitigating any impacts to cultural resources as a result of their activities. Additionally, the corporation will fund a cultural resource inventory of the area and participate in the creation of a visitor interpretation site featuring walking paths and informational kiosks.

For some, the agreement is a bittersweet compromise that nevertheless gives them voice and a chance to weigh in on concerns as they may arise.


  • At 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    nice post. thanks.


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