(KCPW News) The Bureau of Land Management, the state of Utah and several conservation groups have reached an agreement with Bill Barrett Corporation to mitigate the impacts of the company’s natural gas drilling in and around historic Nine Mile Canyon on the West Tavaputs Plateau. The area is home to thousands of American Indian pictographs and petroglyphs. Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Lori Hunsaker calls the agreement historically important.
“I think it’s probably one of the first times we’ve had groups of this range come together, sit at the table and work out an agreement like this, and for the most part, everyone is coming away happy,” she told KCPW.
Hunsaker says the stakeholders will continue to meet annually to discuss whether the agreement needs to be modified.
The conservation groups that joined the agreement as concurring signatories include the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. SUWA Conservation Director Steve Bloch calls it a step forward to protect the rock art.
“Things that the agreement provides for are suppression of the dust; there’s a standard that’s set in there that the BLM is now on the hook to monitor for and to stop the truck traffic if it exceeds that standard, to continue doing what ends up being time consuming and expensive research on the impacts of the dust to the rock art and figuring out if there are ways to safely remove it,” he said.
The agreement will be formally signed Tuesday, January 5th at the State Capitol. Read the document here.