In an unexpected and surprising announcement, a proposal out of the St. George office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the United States has come to light, offering the sale of two oil and gas leases on parcels of land that include the original Rampage event site.
Local residents are concerned about the proposal, given its proximity to the town of Virgin and of course, Zion National Park, which sees over four million visiting tourists every year who arrive to take in the unique landscape.
Former Chairman of the Virgin Planning and Zoning Commission and a town resident, Steve Masefield, said in a discussion with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
, “drilling on these leases would not only degrade the scenic vistas enjoyed by visitors driving to Zion. Nearby rural neighborhoods would be devastated by industrial smells, noise, lighting, and traffic. Our water—and the water used by communities downstream—could be polluted.”
Louise Excell, a lifetime resident and former owner of several tourism and hospitality businesses said that she, “cannot imagine how visitors will feel as they discover pump jacks and flares from oil and gas drilling are visible from both inside and outside the park. Not only will the sight be jarring for visitors and residents, but other important natural resources and quality of life will be affected, including diminished air quality, loss of natural soundscapes, and night skies.”Update
: We reached out to BLM and their representative had this to say:"After multiple years of interest by the nominator in relation to these specific parcels, the Bureau of Land Management initiated the process, which includes an environmental assessment and seeking public input, to determine if these leases will be offered or not, and to determine if the stipulations are sufficient to protect the resources. If they are not, the parcels will be deferred until the resource management plan can be amended. We have notified and tried to work with the Park Service throughout this process and will continue to do so.
It should be noted that the final Notice of Competitive Lease Sale has not been finalized and that this is just the leasing stage. Additional NEPA will have to be conducted before any potential surface-disturbing activities can begin.
The draft Environmental Assessment that is out for comment considers recreation and mountain biking, specifically noting the Flying Monkey mountain bike trail. Once the comment period ends in February, the comments will be analyzed and the final report completed. The sale is expected to occur in June."
The original Rampage site is the location of a number of ground-breaking milestones in the world of mountain bikes. It was the location that first launched the sport in front of millions of people the world over. The site under threat also includes the popular Flying Monkey trail among others, and if this sale were to go through after all of the necessary processes have been dealt with, this trail as well others in the area could be negatively affected, or worse, lost. Cam Zink's 360 Off the Oakley Icon Sender
There is a 30 day comment period open to the public, through February 10, 2017, for those that wish to voice their opposition to the proposal. More information for this can be found here
. The sale of the lease is scheduled for June 2017.