Public lands are big business in Moab, Utah - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Public lands are big business in Moab, Utah

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SOURCE Public Land Solutions

MOAB, Utah, May 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This news is being distributed today by Public Land Solutions: Public lands are big business in Moab. Two of the nation's most iconic national parks – Arches and Canyonlands – and the surrounding public lands bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors to Grand County, Utah each year generating tens of millions of dollars in tourism and outdoor recreation related activities.

In 2012, for example, visitors spent $125.7 million in Grand County, and tourism employed more than 2,300 people.

"Our business community recognizes that, to maintain a healthy, thriving and diverse local economy, the recreation values on public land must be maintained," said Kirstin Peterson, City Council member and owner of Rim Mountain Bike Tours. "With smart planning, we can protect the parks and surrounding landscape that belong to all Americans and ensure oil and gas drilling occurs responsibly and in the right places."

With that economic interest in mind, more than 50 business owners in Utah sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management, urging a smarter approach to public land management. Yesterday was the final day to submit comments on the Moab Master Leasing Plan (MLP) to the BLM.

The Moab MLP would take a broader look across the local landscape and to plan oil and gas development and potash mining in a way that aims to protect the regional recreation economy and public lands. Businesses in Moab have thrived because of recreation opportunities on public lands like hiking at Fisher Towers, mountain biking and jeeping at Gemini Bridges and climbing at Indian Creek.

"Like a good snowpack that brings a flowing river, my business depends on healthy land and water in this region," said Denise Oblak, owner of Canyon Voyages rafting company.

The business owners noted four land designations for BLM consideration, including: open, with tailored stipulations; no surface occupancy; lease retirement zones; and closed. From outfitters and guides, restaurants and lodging to law firms and manufacturers, these residents understand the impact of the recreation economy and the opportunities it creates in the region.

The letter included a map to show the "best way to enhance and maintain" leasing for energy extraction and the recreation economy in the region.

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