There have been a few articles written lately about the fate of MOAB off-road areas and a nomination filed by lawyer Craig Larson to open it up to oil drilling.

A little history on how this works.

The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 makes it possible for companies to use parcels of public land for drilling purposes. North Dakota-based lawyer Craig Larson looks to be at the front of this charge, his proposal looks to lease territory between Arches and Canyonlands National Park. 

Under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, anyone can nominate a piece of public land for gas and oil development. There is not a fee to do so and it can be done anonymously. Following a review by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the parcel can then be sent to a lease auction where the highest bidder is awarded usage rights.

Here is where it gets interesting. The minimum competitive bid is two dollars per acre. The base lease has a term of 10 years, the first five carry an annual renting fee of $1.50, and the second five pay $2 for the term’s second half. Doing some quick math means that a 100-acre lease would cost $2017.50 for those 10 years. (100 acres * $2 = $2000, $1.5 * 5 = $7.5 and $2 * 5 = $10 Total Cost $2017.50)

If the company does do oil and gas drilling they have to pay a 12.5% royalty to the Government off of the profits made.

Cool, what does that mean for OHV and public use?

We don’t really know. It could stop uses in some places near the drilling sites. It may open up new areas because of construction, it may severely impact the local tourist industry.

On the other hand it will bring in a significant amount of workers boosting the local economy due to the sheer amount of people. It will impact trail use because there are more people in the area.

Could this be a positive?

It could be a massive infusion of money into the local economy. If we can work with the winning bidder to protect OHV and public use in conjunction with their drilling as well as being able to get some dollars put into conservation it could be a win for everyone involved.

What are your thoughts? Click here for a copy of the MLA from 1920 with amendments.

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William Connor

As the Editor, William is responsible for all the good, the bad, the ugly and the indifferent that happens at 4WAAM. William brings a wide range of experience to this role. He also wields a freely shared...

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